The molecular processor: the size of things to come?

Teeny-weeny chips...
Written by Tony Hallett, Contributor

Teeny-weeny chips...

In what may herald the beginning of a century of nanotechnology, boffins at Bell Labs have made a transistor from a single molecule. Hendrik Schon, a physicist, and two chemists, Zhenan Bao and Hong Meng, this week published a paper on the subject entitled Field-Effect Modulation of the Conductance of Single Molecules. It can be found on the website of Science magazine at http://www.sciencemag.org/sciencexpress/recent.shtml . The idea is that smaller computing circuitry normally translates into faster and more efficient processing technology. However, such developments - even given the large R&D budgets of companies such as IBM, Intel and Bell Labs owner Lucent, as well as academic studies - won't translate into commercial products for some time, if ever, in some cases. Earlier this year IBM researchers created a simple logic circuit on a carbon strand at a molecular level, and the pressure is always on breaking the next barrier. The two greater challenges of usable transistors constructed on an atomic and sub-atomic levels remain in the distant future, however.
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