As features on chips get smaller, we're edging closer to where we bump up against basic physics, which dictates that the behavior of wiring will become unpredictable once the number of atoms involved gets small enough. As a result, there's been some preliminary work done on producing processor components out of single molecules, like carbon nanotubes.

But it's not just processors we care about. As features of flash memory shrink, we'll eventually run up against a similar problem: the locations where electrons are stored will be too small to hold sufficient charge for the device to actually work. Fortunately, it looks like molecules may be able to help us out here, as well. Researchers are reporting that they've designed a combination of two molecules that can hold electrons for use as flash memory.

This isn't the first advance in single-molecule flash memory. Last year, researchers reported building a flash device that included layers of graphene and molybdenum disulfide, both of which form molecular sheets a single atom thick. But these devices required several layers of these materials to work, so the charge ended up stored in several stacked sheets of graphene.

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