Computer model of the SketchSET device
Inspired by the Etch-a-sketch toy, Professor of physics and astronomy, Jeremy Levy has developed a device that can draw nano-meter circuits onto the interface of a crystal of strontium titanate and a 1.2 nano-meter layer of lanthanum aluminate. Like the toy, the surface can be erased for use in a new sketch. Dubbed the SketchSET, LEvy produced the first single electron transistor of oxide-based materials. The "island" can house up to 2 electrons, giving states one 0, 1, and 2. Not only is the transistor extremely sensitive to electrical fields, it also has ferroelectric states in the absense of power. Cut the power, the island can then retain it last condition, with electrons or without, 1 or 0. The transistor material is also sensitive to pressure changes at the nano-scale, possibly resulting in nano-charging or force sensing.
Levy works from the Pitt's School of Arts and sciences, and his project is funded by the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research's Multi-University Research Initiative (MURI) program. These other schools are also in on this 5 year effort: Cornell, Stanford, the University of California at Santa Barbara, the University of Michigan, and UW-Madison.
pic via the University of Pittsburg