ZRL researcher Emanuel Lörtscher receives Swiss Physical Society award

Outstanding achievement in the field of molecular electronics

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Zurich, Switzerland, 22 February 2007—Emanuel Lörtscher of IBM's (NYSE:IBM) Zurich Research Laboratory received the 2007 Applied Physics Award of the Swiss Physical Society (SPS) for his outstanding achievements in the field of molecular electronics—a hot new prospect for future information processing.

IBM researcher Emanuel LoertscherThe SPS award recognizes Emanuel Lörtscher's breakthrough demonstration of a single-molecule switch. Switching between an "on" and an "off" state is the basic functionality required for information processing, and Lörtscher's experiments with a single molecule contacted between two electrodes prove that it is indeed the molecule itself which performs the switching. This demonstration is the latest success in efforts to leverage the properties of molecules such that they can become the building blocks of future memory and logic applications.

Lörtscher's results demonstrate reversible, voltage-induced switching between the low-conductive "off" state and the high-conductive "on" state of an individual molecule. In order to investigate the molecule's electronic properties, Lörtscher started with the mechanically controllable break junction (MCBJ) technique and enhanced it with a statistical measurement approach to verify that only a single molecule was positioned between two atomic-sized electrodes. He then succeeded in proving that a single molecule can be switched between the "on" and "off" states needed for memory applications. Moreover, by performing repeated write-read-erase-read cycles, Lörtscher demonstrated that these two distinct bit states are stable and can be read back without destroying the molecule, thus revealing the potential of a single-molecule system for use as a memory element.

Emanuel Lörtscher joined IBM Research - Zurich in 2004. His current research interests are in the field of nanoscale devices based on single molecules and semiconducting nanowires, as well as their potential applications to future information-processing technologies for the so-called post-CMOS era. Lörtscher holds a degree in physics from the Swiss Federal Institute of Techology in Zurich and a PhD from the University of Basel for his work on charge-carrier transport through single molecules.

Every year, the Swiss Physical Society award is given in recognition of young physicists working in Switzerland-or Swiss physicists working abroad-for their outstanding scientific contributions to the fields of general physics, applied physics, or condensed-matter physics. The prize endowment is 5,000 Swiss francs.

About the Swiss Physical Society

The Swiss Physical Society (SPS) is a nationwide organization of physicists working in or associated with Switzerland. The society's objective is to represent the interests of the physics community in Switzerland and to promote public awareness of the increasingly important role played by physics in today's high-tech world. With nearly 1200 members, the SPS is the largest organization of the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT).

Press contact

Nicole Strachowski
Media Relations
IBM Research - Zurich
Tel +41 44 724 84 45

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