IBM Gets Really Small

Arthur Cole

Cool new stuff continues to come out of IBM's research wing, even if it's unlikely it will come off the drawing board any time soon.

 

The latest developments are in molecular and nanotechnology. The company recently published work detailing the ability to manipulate a single atom without changing its magnetic orientation and to measure this phenomenon, ushering in the possibility of turning atoms into discrete storage devices.

 

Some of the numbers being bandied about include 150 trillion bits per square inch, or roughly 1,000 times denser than current technology.

 

In another paper -- and this one's probably even more interesting to those of you jazzed about moving data from place to place -- the company described a single-molecule switch that could be used in place of mechanical switches as chip designs shoot past the 65 nm mark on its way to 45 nm, 32 nm and smaller. Possible benefits include smaller, more powerful chips that may consume dramatically less energy than today's silicon.

 

The company has now set its sights on lining up multiple molecules to form a basic circuit and then tying circuits together to form an actual processor.



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