Molecular-scale circuits that link together tiny transistors, wires, and switches to carry out basic computing operations were named this year's top scientific achievement by the journal Science and its publisher, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
The nanocircuits, named the Breakthrough of the Year by Science's editors, leads their list of the top ten scientific developments in 2001. The top ten, chosen for their profound implications for society and the advancement of science, appear in the journal's 21 December issue.
This year's leap forward for molecular computing may pave the way to a future filled with tiny but extremely fast and powerful machines that can translate conversations on the fly or delve deep into your body to diagnose an illness. If these circuits can be combined into even more complex architecture, this would "undoubtedly provide computing power to launch scientific breakthroughs for decades to come," say the Science editors.
The idea of using molecules and small chemical groups as the building blocks of a new generation of computers has been around for years. The quest has become more urgent over the last decade, however, as traditional silicon circuitry continues to shrink towards a point where it can no longer function. Researchers hope to skirt this problem by using molecules and small chemical groups to create billions of devices that could fit easily in the space of a current chip.
After expanding their repertoire of molecular-scale devices in 2000, several research teams to
Contact: Ginger Pinholster
American Association for the Advancement of Science