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Posted: Jul 05, 2012
How atomic scale devices are transforming electronics
(Nanowerk News) After more than a decade of research advances, scientists and technologists are learning to measure and manipulate matter to create fundamentally different electronic devices. In a special discussion, three experts recently explored the dynamics making this possible and why these new advances are exciting researchers. Joining the dialogue:
Michelle Simmons, Scientia Professor and Director of the Australian Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology, University of New South Wales;
Paul Weiss, Fred Kavli Chair in Nanosystems Sciences at UCLA and Director of the California NanoSystems Institute;
Stan Williams, Hewlett-Packard Senior Fellow and director of the company's Cognitive Systems Laboratory.
Among the topics was the recent announcement by Simmons’ lab that it had created 4-atom-wide nanowires, as well as showed a working transistor made from a single atom. Significant achievements, Simmons believes that research in her field has advanced so far that it warrants special attention. “In every field, there is a time to accelerate your commitment," she said. "In quantum computing, that time is now.”
The researchers also focused on the difficulty introducing transformational advances to industry. Discussing Hewlett-Packard’s plan to commercialize a mass-market flash memory device based on memristors -- a new type of electronic device that stores information by manipulating the location of a few atoms -- Williams noted, “Development costs at least 10 times as much as research, and commercialization costs 10 times as much as development. So in the end, research -- which we think is the most important part -- is only 1 percent of the effort."
As director of the California NanoSystems Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, Kavli Professor Paul Weiss heads an institute focused on advancing and speeding the commercialization of nanotechnology. Weiss said there are ways to improve the dynamics for progress. “At the same time that we're discovering new materials and new phenomena, we should be looking at how to integrate them into broader structures, to build robust systems, and to manufacture everything reliably. We can't ignore any one area. The beautiful part is when they start to come together.”