This project is awarded under the Nanoelectronics for 2020 and Beyond competition, with support by multiple Directorates and Divisions at the National Science Foundation as well as by the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative of the Semiconductor Research Corporation.
The proposed research will explore the interactions between candidate QCA molecules bound on a surface and employ the well-developed theory of electron transfer in mixed-valence compounds, focusing it on the particular problems presented by the molecular QCA paradigm. An interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers from the University of Notre Dame will use a combination of synthesis, theory, measurement, and device architecture engineering to study classes of mixed-valence compounds designed for QCA operation. Candidate molecules will be synthesized and deposited on surfaces, shifts in the charge distribution of one molecule due the interaction with neighboring molecules will be imaged directly, and methods for querying and integrating these molecular systems into electronic devices will be developed. The interdisciplinary nature of this work will impact the education and training of students at all levels. Outreach efforts will include introducing scanning microscopy to the K12 classroom and continuing to develop a MATLAB project to energize high school science and math students by putting real programming power into their hands. At the graduate level, the fusion of chemistry and electrical engineering cultures will produce a broader perspective for students and overcomes disciplinary linguistic and conceptual barriers.
Computing using molecules has the potential to generate ultrasmall devices that use little power; however, many significant technical hurdles must be overcome to realize the benefits of molecular level computing. This work will further our understanding how molecules can communicate via their charges, which could lead to computer circuits that do not use the flow of electrical current to transmit information. Such work could impact industries that use microprocessors in their products, including computer, consumer electronics, automotive, etc.