Have you ever asked yourself which is the sharpest object ever made? It might be a shocker for you but the sharpest object in the whole world is the scanning probe microscope which is as sharp as a hair shaft and can match the width of single atoms. Designed in the ‘80s by IBM, this piece of technology has been used, over the time, to produce patterns as big as a few nanometers or to create the smallest transistors in the world’s history.
The scanning probe microscope might be used in developing the CPUs of the future
As everything in the “nano-world”, this piece of equipment needs precision and a lot of patience when it is used to create viable designs, in the conditions in which it works with single atoms.
However, Bob Wolkow, a physicist at the University of Alberta, in Canada, is willing to use this machine to bring the whole humanity into the future era of modern computer by developing a new and tiny category of processor.
According to Wolkow’s plans, the future CPUs would be created atom by atom using the so-called “minute circuits” which are thought to represent the future’s elements of computers.
As we speak, computers are relying on “binary information”, with 1 representing when electrons are held and 0 when electrons are dumped, a “circuit” which uses a lot of energy.
Now, Wolkow thought that this energy consumption can be lowered by using atoms orbited by electrons, which would be the “1”, and other atoms emptied by electrons, therefore they would be “0”.
Thus, the researcher thinks the energy consumption would be much lower.
The use of scanning probe microscope can benefit other scientific fields as well
Bob Wolkow is not the single one in this journey as European and Australian scientists developed computer memories from single atoms and quantum computer components, respectively, by using the scanning probe microscope machine.
However, computers are not the only domain the machine can benefit.
Accordingly, the scanning probe microscope can also be helpful in chemistry and in taking high-res close-up images when used on magnifying molecules and cells.
However, many other scientists are thinking that Wolkow’s theory that outcomes made by single atoms using the scanning probe microscope would be reliable is wrong. Accordingly, they think that the results would be hardware-limited.