One scientist was an organizer of the pro-democracy
movement in China. Another, a refugee from Communist Vietnam. The
group's chemist once worked in the Alaskan oil fields.
The goal: to develop integrated circuits that are a billion
times more efficient than today's chips, but just a fraction of
the size and cost.
"Computing efficiency has increased by a factor of about
100 million in the past 40 years, but there appear to be no physical
reasons why it can't be improved by a factor of a billion,"
says Stan Williams, director of the Quantum Science Research (QSR)
group, who initiated and leads molecular electronics research at
"We didn't set out to create diversity, we just picked the
best people we could find and got them here," says Yong Chen,
technical lead and a former pro-democracy organizer in China.
"It turned out to be very stimulating to have people from
all over the world working together."
"You have chemists talking to physicists, computer architects
talking with chemists," says Tan Ha, a former Vietnamese
boat person who now configures some of the one-of-a-kind equipment
used to assemble molecular devices.
Other recent achievements by this scientific melting pot:
- They combined, for the first time, memory and logic using rewritable,
non-volatile molecular switch devices.
- They developed a system for fabricating circuits called nano-imprint
lithography, a printing method that allows an entire wafer of
circuits to be stamped out quickly and inexpensively from a master.
Also, this week members of the QSR group scored
triple scientific wins, including receiving their seventh
key patent. See related story.
"You have people from all different technical fields who normally
don't speak the same language, and now they're working together,"
says Doug Ohlberg, a chemist and former oil field worker."
Other factors in the group's success? The freedom to pursue "long
shots," scientists say, and an ethos of cooperation.
"We have a common goal and we want to make it work,"
says Regina Ragan, a post-doc whose job is to grow and analyze
"Essentially, we're all on one big team and we either sink
or swim," says Duncan Stewart, who tests and analyzes the
There's also a feeling of excitement around making a scientific
"I think what makes this team work is that everyone feels
the importance of what we're doing right now, not just for HP,"
says Ha. "Working with this group is not a job -- it's a privilege."
The eight members of the team are Yong Chen, technical lead; Tan
Ha, Gun-Young Jung, Xuema Li, Doug Ohlberg, Regina Ragan, Duncan
Stewart and Hylke Wiersma.
The team is encompassed by the Quantum Science Research group,
led by Stan Williams, and collaborates with other members in QSR,
including Alex Bratkovski, Ted Kamins, Philip Kuekes, Pavel Kornilovich,
Zhiyong Li, Jeanie Lau, Shun-Chi Chang and Brian Samuels.
The group also works with numerous researchers in the Information
Access Lab, the Hardcopy Technology Lab, Information Technology
Research and the Technology Development Organization, as well as
with other internal HP and
All stories in this package were written by Jamie Beckett.
The photographer and designer was Trang Vu.