A step toward Ubiquitous Nano Computing
by Nat Kannan IITM 1970
25th October 2002
If you have traveled south through the heart of silicon valley in San Jose, Ca and descend into the beautiful Almaden valley, you will sometimes get a glimpse of the IBM Research Center tucked in a nice setting there. It competes with Xerox PARC in Palo Alto and is responsible for a lot of breakthrough research. One of the holy grails in silicon valley is to get rid of the Silicon as the substrate in computer chips. The humble Copper is showing some promise, thanks to IBM.
IBM scientists have demonstrated that they can create an OR gate and an AND gate
with molecules of Carbon Monoxide precisely placed on a crystalline copper in an
egg carton arrangement can create a logic engine that is 250,000 smaller in area
( about 200 Square nanometers) than the current most advanced CMOS chip. They call their technique "molecular cascading" and use dominoes to illustrate their point. If a parallel pattern of CO molecules arranged like a domino and the last domino is set to fall so that either of the line could topple it then it creates the equivalent of the OR gate. Either line is either nudged ( or not) by a scanning tunneling microscope. The CO molecules behave just like the domino pieces.
I urge you to go to their website at
to see some cool animation and more technical descriptions of this path breaking
Now the speculative part. When you think of Nanotechnologies and ubiquitous
computing spawned by IBM's work and start dreaming of a new wave where highly
miniaturized computers get embedded into everyday objects doing millions of
specialized functions and communicating between them to coordinate their work to
relieve humans of all the drudgery, you can see how lucky our children and their children are going to be.
I can imagine a time in future where this clunker of a Personal Computer and the
tangle of wires under my desk would be looked down in contempt as that stone age
of technology. If these guys at IBM succeed in replacing Silicon with Copper
then San Jose will get a new name Copper Valley.