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One-Electron-Thick Current

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

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  1. Radium

    Radium Guest


    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?


  2. Radium

    Radium Guest

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

    F--king typos!!!
  3. yes it is impossible. Not go back to playing with your blocks and marbles.
  4. 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.

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

    Radium Guest

    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.

  8. Thick as a Brick, you mean?
  9. Same for sinister something of other.
  10. Too bad about the accident.

  11. good point.

    damn those widths and heights and stuff.
  12. one dimensional reality totally sucks.

  13. lots of words talking about nothing.

  14. Sjouke Burry

    Sjouke Burry Guest

    Ah there is our trolling idiot again.
  15. Bob Myers

    Bob Myers Guest

    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
    made of free electrons, but rather atoms. Your next question,
    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
    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 Larkin

    John Larkin Guest

    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.

  17. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    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!
  18. Marra

    Marra Guest

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

    John Fields Guest

  20. Chris

    Chris Guest

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