Gun-Young Jung been on the job at HP
Labs for a week when he chanced upon an idea that solved a problem
stalling work on what turned out to be a technology breakthrough:
creation of the highest density electronically addressable memory
known to date.
But he did have one thing: excitement about working in the emerging
field of molecular electronics.
Jung's colleagues were developing a method of fabricating circuits
using an advanced system of manufacturing called nano-imprint
lithography -- essentially a printing method that allows an entire
wafer of circuits to be stamped out quickly and inexpensively
from a master.
The problem they were facing had to do with the monomer solution
used to create the thin film in nano-imprinting. The monomer spun-film
shrank so quickly that there was no film left before imprinting.
What Jung suggested was combining a polymer with the monomer
solution. That wasn't as simple as it may sound. The team spent
weeks trying to get just the right combination, constructing a
few hundred molecular devices before hitting on the right percentages
of monomer and polymer.
Another time, Jung was faced with the problem of a polymer film
that kept sticking to the nano-imprinting mold after imprinting.
"It's like when you bake a cake and some of the cake sticks
to the pan. Maybe the cooking oil is no good," he explains.
"I figured out how to improve the quality of the cooking
For Jung, the thrill of working in nanotechnology springs from
its relative youth as a field.
"It's such a new, unique area that a small discovery could
turn out to be significant," he says. "Small things
can make a difference."