Continuing its groundbreaking efforts in the emerging field of nanotechnology,
HP (NYSE:HPQ) today announced
it has received a key U.S. patent that helps consolidate and strengthen
its growing portfolio of inventions in molecular electronics.
"We aim to do nothing less than reinvent the computer and this
patent is the foundation of the effort," said R. Stanley Williams,
HP Fellow and director, Quantum
Science Research (QSR), HP Labs.
The patent, "Chemically Synthesized and Assembled Electronic Devices"
(US 6,459,095), describes a simple, inexpensive and scalable chemical
process that could be used in creating a variety of molecular-scale
electronic devices -- including logic, memory, communications and
signal routing devices -- using two crossed wires "sandwiching"
electrically addressable molecules.
Although much of the work has been disclosed in three previous
patents issued to HP and UCLA,(1) the
current patent reflects HP's effort to create a complete,
manufacturable molecular electronics technology.
The inventors are James R. Heath, currently UCLA chemistry professor
and former director of the California NanoSystems Institute, whose
group collaborates with HP Labs; Philip J. Kuekes, HP senior scientist and computer
architect in QSR, and Williams. (Heath will become Elizabeth W.
Gilloon Professor and professor of chemistry at the California Institute
of Technology Jan. 1, 2003.)
The three also have just been named to the Scientific American
50, the noted magazine's first list recognizing scientific and technological
contributions from the past year that provide a vision of a better
Their invention relates to a method for going beyond the theoretical
material limits of conventional silicon processes -- expected to
be reached in about a decade -- by creating electronic devices made
by trapping electrically switchable molecules between crossed wires
only a few atoms wide. A bit of logic or memory could be stored
at each intersection of wires.
In conventional integrated circuit fabrication, complex patterns
of wires and switches must be precisely built up a layer at a time.
With the new invention, however, the wires need not cross at precise
points or angles, and the function of the molecules can be defined
after the device has been built.
"This is an approach that we believe will enable the industry to
extend Moore's Law for another 50 years," said Heath. Moore's Law
states that integrated circuits essentially double in power every
18 months. It is widely recognized in the semiconductor industry
and named after Intel co-founder Gordon Moore.
"We believe that this basic architecture can be used to build nanoscale
electro-chemical cells that are useful electronically in a variety
of ways," Kuekes added.
"It's important to recognize that this is a whole new field and
a lot of work remains to be done," Williams said. "That's why we're
talking about it -- to encourage others to pursue research as well.
The more people working on it, the stronger it will become, and
that will benefit everybody."
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HP completed its merger transaction
involving Compaq Computer Corporation on May 3, 2002. More information
about HP is available at https://www.hp.com/.
(1) US 6,314,019, "Molecular-Wire Crossbar Interconnect
(MWCI) for Signal Routing and Communications," Kuekes, Philip J.
; Williams, R. Stanley; Heath, James R.
US 6,128,214, "Molecular Wire Crossbar Memory," Kuekes, Williams,
US 6,256,767, "Demultiplexer for a Molecular Wire Crossbar," Kuekes,