GE Develops Atom-Sized Diode With Application for Sensors


GE has developed a nanotube diode it says will have applications for its security products and could be as revolutionary as the invention of the transistor. GE Global Research says its carbon nano-diode, about the width of 10 hydrogen atoms, will enable smaller and faster electronic devices with more functionality.

GE reported on the nano-diode, one of the smallest functioning devices ever made, in the July 5 edition of Applied Physics Letters. Unlike traditional diodes that form the building blocks of sensors, computer chips and light emitting diodes (LEDs), GE says its nano-diode has the ability to both emit and detect light and information and can function as a diode and two different transistors at the same time.

“Just as silicon transistors replaced old vacuum tube technology and enabled the electronic age, carbon nanotube devices could open a new era of electronics,” says GE’s advanced technology leader for nanotechnology Margaret Blohm. “We’re eager to start developing new applications for the GE businesses.”

GE says one possible application for the nano-diode, developed by GE scientist Ji-Ung Lee, will be advanced sensors with levels of sensitivity that eclipse existing sensors where the smallest levels of chemical and biological hazards could be detected.

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