# One-Electron-Thick Current

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by Radium, May 21, 2007.

Hi:

Is it possible to have an AC electric current that's 60 Hz, 5 volts,
0.01 amperes, and only 1-electron-thick?

If 1-electron-thick too thin to be impossible, then what is the
minimum thickness of electric current that's physically-possible?

Thanks,

Correction: "If 1-electron-thick too thin to be *possible*"

F--king typos!!!

3. ### Jon SlaughterGuest

yes it is impossible. Not go back to playing with your blocks and marbles.

4. ### John PopelishGuest

You might read up on quantum wires, which come pretty close
to single file electron conductors.

5. ### Guest

Where are you measuring the thickness?
One electron is one electron thick, if this is at all meaningful.
jack

ps Is it possible to get a flow of water that is one molecule thick?

Around the flow of electrons.
Yes. I am referring exactly that. A stream of electrons that is one
electron thick.

Now, is it possible to have an AC electric current that's 60 Hz, 5
volts, 0.01 amperes, and only 1-electron-thick?

If 1-electron-thick too thin to be possible, then what is the minimum
thickness of electric current that's physically-possible?

If the conductor is copper? If its ionized air? If its a vacuum?
I wish I knew

7. ### Guest

My understanding is that electrons are continuously bumping around in
the matrices of the substrate in which they occur and mass flow of
these negative charged entities is possible in conductors. So if one
electron follows another down a gap between two large atoms, is that
what you would refer to as an electric current? At the size of the
environment you are trying to imagine, I doubt that current flow is
much of a meaningful concept. Perhaps if you used a six foot diameter
copper pipe for a conductor, and you upped the frequency of the signal
many orders of magnitude, the "skin effect" might spread the "current"
electrons very thinly on the surface of the pipe, but they would be in
a haze of oscillations backwards and forwards on the surface. I
haven't done any sums to work out how big the conductor would have to
be to carry this current, but doubling the minimum size that would be
needed would still result in a mono-electron "skin" with the electrons
just spread more thinly. This concept though is far from the truth as
would be observed by one of the participating electrons. I don't know
what the truth would actually be like. We can just make guesses using
our experience of the world at our size, and according to all the
tests we carry out on such phenomena.
The conductor would have to be so thin that the speed of flow of
electrons for the current you have in mind would surely not be
possible with only 5 volts pushing it. Anyway, if you could conceive
of a monoatomic "wire" the electrons would be rattling about all
around the surface of this impossibly small equipment.
So do I.

Why not do a calculation to see how many electrons must be passing a
point in the conductor in one millisecond? might be enlightening.

jack

8. ### Rev. 11D Meow!Guest

Thick as a Brick, you mean?

9. ### Rev. 11D Meow!Guest

Same for sinister something of other.

11. ### Rev. 11D Meow!Guest

good point.

damn those widths and heights and stuff.

12. ### Rev. 11D Meow!Guest

one dimensional reality totally sucks.

13. ### Rev. 11D Meow!Guest

lots of words talking about nothing.

14. ### Sjouke BurryGuest

Ah there is our trolling idiot again.

15. ### Bob MyersGuest

An electric current is generally NOT a "stream of electrons"
as you seem to be envisioning it. A conductor, obviously,
could not be "one electron thick" since conductors are not
no doubt, will be whether or not you can create a one-atom-thick
conductor, and I will leave that to you.

Would it be possible to have an electron beam in which only
one electron at a time were emitted? In theory, I suppose so, but
then we'll run into other problems.
Sorry, no AC electron beams, at least not without some pretty
odd cicrumstances that take this out of the realm of any practical
consideration. (Like it wasn't already.) "5 volts" of current is
meaningless.
Vacuum is not a conductor in the conventional sense; if you
are talking about current "flow" through a vacuum, then you
ARE talking about what is in essence a one-electron-at-a-time
electron beam, and that's certainly possible, but so what?
In the case of copper and other materials which would be acting as
conventional conductors, the thickness of the conductor obviously
could not be smaller than an atom of the conductor in question,
and best of luck getting atoms to line up single file for any
significant distance to play "wire" for you. Single-atom points
of contact through which electrons might pass can certainly
be envisioned, but then, so what? What's with this "thickness"
nonsense, anyway?

If your real question is whether or not one can envision a
"current" that's the equivalent of one electron at a time
passing a given point - sure. But again, so what?

Bob M.

16. ### John LarkinGuest

Sure. Just coat a large surface area with an atomic layer of a
metallic conductor. I think single-layer conduction happens in carbon
films, too.

John

17. ### Rich GriseGuest

Sure. Just find a suitable substrate, and deposit a 1-atom thick layer of
some conductor by molecular-beam epitaxy.

To do .01 ampere, however, it would have to be quite wide.

Why not build one and report back with your results?

Good Luck!
Rich

18. ### MarraGuest

No, it would have to be one atom thick.
You need an atom to pass the electrons between to get a flow of
current.