Number 400 (Story #4), October 30, 1998 by Phillip F. Schewe and Ben Stein|
NANOCOMPUTERS IN A BOTTLE. UCLA scientist James Heath and his Hewlett Packard collaborators Stan Williams and Phil Kuekes hope to grow computers in chemical solution by building up arrays of atoms or molecules (at first in two-dimensional planes but later in three- dimensional volumes) linked together with tiny wires, perhaps eventually carbon nanotubes. Such a computer could be tiny (smaller than a sand grain), energy efficient (10,000 times more so than current silicon computers), and capable of new tricks, such as being able to sense and respond to its environment through chemically activated switches. Implementing a chemically assembled computer will depend on a high degree of defect tolerance in the wiring, unlike today's microprocessors which require wiring perfection. Presently the UCLA-HP group will be doing rudimentary calculations with a computer including some components at the nano and others at the micro level. An all-nano computer performing simple computations, Heath believes, is a couple of years away. Serious applications would follow years later. Heath (310- 825-2836, firstname.lastname@example.org) will report on nanocomputers at the AVS meeting.