Crossbar Nanocomputers; The Nanotech Revolution; Exclusive Online Issues; by Philip J. Kuekes, Gregory S. Snider and R. Stanley Williams; 8 Page(s)
In a little over half a century, the number of transistors on a silicon chip has grown from just one to nearly a billion--an accomplishment celebrated as Moore's Law. By greatly enhancing digital machines' ability to crunch numbers, execute logical operations and store data, this unprecedented manufacturing success has enabled revolutionary changes in our day-to-day lives while spawning one of the planet's largest and most influential industries.
As more and more transistors are packed onto silicon integrated circuits (ICs) during the next decade and a half, the lengths of the smallest chip features will shrink to nearly the molecular scale. Even the most optimistic proponents of ICs believe that major innovations will be required to reach the ultimate operating limit of the silicon transistor: a length for functional features around 10 nanometers (nm), or about 30 atoms long. Finding alternative technologies that can further shrink computing devices is crucial to maintaining technological progress. But because of the silicon IC's amazingly successful track record, the performance bar for any successor is so high it will take at least a decade to develop candidates that will be available when they are needed.