You are on page 1of 23

Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 1

Electronics
Current and Emerging Technologies for
Computers
Manufacturing

Smaller, Lighter, Faster, Cheaper, and Less Power Consumption


has been the trend in electronics and computers.

The ENIAC computer, built The Intel 4004


in 1946, weighed 30 tons, Microprocessor chip, built
covered 1,800 square feet in 1971, just 25 years
of floor space, and later, was the size of a
consumed 160 kilowatts of thumb nail. It weighed
power. It cost $500,000. less than a once, and
consumed less than a
miliwatt of power. It had
the same capabilities as
the ENIAC and cost $4.

Dr. Isaac Chuang, research staff member


at IBM's Almaden Research Center (San
Jose, Calif.), holds a quantum computer --
a glass tube containing specially designed
molecules that can solve some of the most
difficult mathematical problems.
exponentially faster than a conventional
computer.
By Anthony
Cappucci
Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 2

PAR T 1 : ELE CTR ONIC S


A Brief History of the Progression of Electronics Technology

Nikola Tesler Invents the Alternating Current Generator & Electric Motor

(1888) Nikola Tesla was one of the great pioneers of the use of
alternating current electricity. Alternating current electricity changes in
strength cyclically over time and is the type of electricity that power
companies supply to homes today. Tesla invented the alternating current
induction generator, a device that changes mechanical energy into
alternating current electricity, and the Tesla coil, a transformer that
changes the frequency of alternating current.
He went to the United States in 1884 and worked for American inventor Thomas
Edison for a year before setting up his own workshop. For much of his time in the United
States, Tesla worked with American industrialist George Westinghouse, who bought and
successfully developed Tesla's patents, leading to the introduction of alternating current for
power transmission.
Tesla built his first working induction motor in 1883. He found that he could raise
little interest in his inventions in Europe. He set off for New York City, where he set up his
own laboratory and workshop in 1887 to develop his motor in a practical way. Only
months later he applied for and was granted a complicated set of patents covering the
generation, transmission, and use of alternating current electricity. Because alternating
current can be transmitted over much greater distances than direct current, it provides
the power for most of our present-day machines. At about the same time he lectured to
the American Institute of Electrical Engineers on his alternating current system. After
learning about the talk, George Westinghouse quickly bought Tesla's patents.
Westinghouse backed Tesla's ideas and, as a demonstration, employed his system
for lighting at the 1893 World Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Months later
Westinghouse won the contract to generate electricity at Niagara Falls, New York. He used
Tesla's system to supply electricity to local industries and deliver alternating current to the
town of Buffalo, New York, (22 mi) distant. Soon after, Tesler’s alternating current was
supplied throughout the country. His alternating current motors were used to power
machinery in all industries.

The Invention of the Vacuum Tube

The First
Fleming Valve
Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 3
(1905) Sir John Ambrose Fleming made the first diode tube, the Fleming valve. The
device had three leads, two for the heater/cathode and the other for the plate.
(1907) Lee De Forest added a grid electrode to Fleming’s’ valve and created a triode,
later improved and called the Audion.
(1921) Albert W. Hull, an American engineer, invented a vacuum tube oscillator called it
a magnetron. The magnetron was the first device that could efficiently produce
microwaves. Radar, which was developed gradually during the 1920's and 1930's,
provided the first widespread use of microwaves.
The introduction of Vacuum tubes at the beginning of the 20th century was the
starting point of the rapid growth of modern electronics. With vacuum tubes manipulation
of signals because possible, which could not be done with the early telegraph and
telephone circuit or with early transmitters using high voltage sparks to create radio
waves. For example, with vacuum tubes weak radio and audio signals could be amplified,
and audio signals, such as music or voice, could be

superimposed on radio waves. The development of a large variety of tubes designed for
specialized functions made possible the swift progress of radio communication technology
before World War II.
The vacuum tube era reached its peak with the completion of the first general
purpose electronic digital computer in 1945. This huge machine, called ENIAC (Electronic
Numerical Integrator and Computer) was built by the two engineers at the University of
Pennsylvania, J. Presper Eckert, Jr., and John W. Mauchly. The computer contained
about 18,000 vacuum tubes and occupied about 1,800 square feet of floor space. ENIAC
worked 1000 times faster than the fastest non electronic computers then in use.

The Solid-State Transformation

Three American physicists-John Bardeen, Walter H.Brattain, and


William Shockley-invented the transistor in 1947. The transistor has
now almost completely replaced the vacuum tube and most of its
applications. Incorporating an arrangement of semiconductor
materials and of electrical contacts, the transistor provides the same
functions as the vacuum to but at a reduced cost, weight, size, and
power consumption and with higher reliability. Transistors
revolutionized the electronics industry, dramatically reducing the size
of computers and other equipment. Transistors were used as amplifiers in hearing aids and
pocket-sized radios and the early 1950's. By the 1960's, semiconductor diodes and
transistors had replaced vacuum tubes in many types of equipment.

Integrated Circuits

Integrated circuits developed from transistor technology


as scientists sought ways to build more transistors into a
circuit. The first integrated circuits were patented in
1959 by two Americans-Jack Kilby, an engineer, and
Robert Noyce, a physicist-who worked independently.
Integrated circuits had caused a great revolution in
electronics in the 1960's as transistors had caused in
1950's. The circuits were first used in military equipment
and space craft and helped make possible the first
human space flights of the 1960's. They were soon being Robert Noyce

Jack Kilby
Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 4
used in household electronic products, such as sewing machines, microwave ovens, and
television sets.
Most integrated circuits are small pieces, or “chips,” of silicon, perhaps (0.08 to
0.15 sq in) long, in which transistors are fabricated. Photolithography enables the designer
to create tens of thousands of transistors on a single chip by
proper placement of the many n-type and p-type regions.
These are interconnected with very small conducting paths during
fabrication to produce complex special-purpose circuits.
Such integrated circuits are called monolithic because they are
fabricated on a single crystal of silicon. Chips require much less
space and power and are cheaper to manufacture than an
equivalent circuit built by employing individual transistors.
Integrated circuits (ICs) make the microcomputer possible;
without them, individual circuits and their components would take up far too much space
for a compact computer design. The typical IC consists of elements such as resistors,
capacitors, and transistors packed on a single piece of silicon. In smaller, more densely-
packed ICs, circuit elements may be only a few atoms in size, which makes it possible to
create sophisticated computers the size of notebooks. A typical computer circuit board
features many integrated circuits connected together.

Microprocessors
In the late 1960’s, many scientists had
discussed the possibility of a computer on a
chip, but nearly everyone felt that
integrated circuit technology was not ready
to support such a chip. In 1971, an Intel
team developed such an architecture with
just over 2,300 transistors in an area of only
A clean room at Intel looks
3 by 4 millimeters. It was called the 4004 more like a hospital operating
microprocessor. With its 4-bit CPU, room than a manufacturing
facility. In fact, it is kept in
command register, decoder, decoding sterile conditions 10,000 times
control, control monitoring of machine higher than operating room
commands and interim register, the 4004 standards.
was a great invention. It was used to build the first hand-held
calculator. Suddenly, scientists and engineers could carry the computational power of a
computer with them to job sites, classrooms, and laboratories. The microprocessor was
developed by Robert Noyce, Ted Hoff, Federico Faggin and Stan Mazor. New
manufacturing processes had to be invented in the manufacturing of these chips. A piece
of dust or dirt too small to be seen by the human eye could prevent their successful
manufacture. And thus, the clean room was born.
The Pioneer 10 spacecraft used the 4004 microprocessor. It was launched on
March 2, 1972 and was the first spacecraft and microprocessor to enter the Asteroid Belt.
The Impact of the Electronics Industry
As sales of electronic products in United States grew from some $200 million in 1927
to over $266 billion in 1990, the electronics industry transformed factories, offices, and
homes, emerging as a key economic sector that rivaled the chemical, steel, and auto
industries in size. In the 1960's, the U.S. consumer electronics industry went into decline as
Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 5
manufacturers were unable to compete with the quality and pricing of foreign products,
especially the electronics goods produced by Japanese companies such as Sony and Hitachi.
But in 1980's, however, U.S. manufacturers became the world leaders in semiconductor
development and assembly. And the 1990's semiconductors were essential components of
personal computers and most other electronic items (including cellular telephones,
televisions, medical equipment, and "Smart” appliances). While U.S. companies are still a
major presence in the semiconductor industry (representing about 40 percent of world
sales. in 1998), the consumer items themselves are mostly made overseas. Worldwide
electronics sales were nearly $700 billion 1997.

New and Emerging Technologies in Electronics


Molecular Electronics

The semiconductor industry has seen a remarkable miniaturization trend, driven by


many scientific and technological innovations. But if this trend is to continue, and provide
ever faster and cheaper computers, the size of microelectronic circuit components will soon
need to reach the scale of atoms or molecules—a goal that will require conceptually new
device structures. The field of molecular electronics seeks to use individual molecules to
perform functions in electronic circuitry now performed by semiconductor devices.
Individual molecules are hundreds of times smaller than the smallest features conceivably
attainable by semiconductor technology. Electronic devices constructed from molecules will
be hundreds of times smaller than their semiconductor-based counterparts. Moreover,
individual molecules are easily made exactly the same by the billions and trillions. The
dramatic reductions in size, and the sheer enormity of numbers in manufacture, are the
principle benefits promised by the field of molecular electronics.
Presently, our manufacturers manipulate millions and billions of atoms at a time
using conventional technologies. They manipulate these atoms by pounding, chipping and
other large scale mechanical deformation. They cook up pure silicon and then etch patterns
on its surface. All these

techniques depend on large scale manipulation of atoms. Manipulating atoms today is like
trying to build houses out of Lego blocks using boxing gloves. You can push the Lego blocks
together, but it's extremely difficult to make them snap together. In the future, molecular
nanotechnology will allow us to take off the gloves and manipulate atoms directly. This will
allow very complete control over the placement of individual atoms.
Often, nanotechnology is referred to as "bottom-up" manufacturing. It aims to start
with the smallest possible building materials, atoms, and use them to create a desired
product. Working with individual atoms allows the atom-by-atom design of structures. In
most chemical reactions, unwanted byproducts are an inevitable consequence of the lack of
control over the bonding reactions. With nanotechnology, unwanted byproducts can be
essentially eliminated.
Nanotechnology should allow us to get essentially every atom in the right place,
make almost any structure consistent with the laws of physics and chemistry that we can
specify in atomic detail, and have manufacturing costs not greatly exceeding the cost of the
required raw materials and energy.
Before nanotechnology can become anything other than a very impressive computer
simulation, nanotechnologists must invent an assembler, a few-atoms-large nanomachine
that will custom-build matter.
Engineers at Cornell and Stanford, as well as at Zyvex (the self-described "first
molecular nanotechnology development company") are working to create such assemblers
right now. But the obstacles are daunting. Unlike building with traditional materials that stay
where you put them, atoms and molecules are volatile and will rearrange themselves
Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 6
constantly to maintain stability. How far are we from having an assembler? Estimates vary.
From 5 to 10 years, according to Zyvex, or from 8 to 15 years, according to the research
community. After that, it could be decades before we'll be able to manufacture finished
consumer goods.

Molecular Devices in Use Today

The semiconductor switch, because it can be manufactured at very small scales, has
become the fundamental device in all of modern electronics. The Pentium microchip, for
example, contains 3.6 million such switching devices, which together perform the
enormously complex functions available in the Pentium processor
California Molecular Electronics' (CALMEC®) ChiropticeneTM Switch is a device
that goes beyond the semiconductor switch in size reduction and cost. This switch is a
single molecule that exhibits classical switching properties. Being only a molecule in size, it
is hundreds of times smaller than even the smallest semiconductor switch.
Chiropticene molecules are switchable between two distinct states which are spatial
mirror images of each other. These mirror images are electronically and optically distinct
enabling sharp and stable switching properties. Mirror imagery is a property familiar to
everyone because the human hands are mirror images of each other (i.e., the left hand
seen in a mirror, looks just like the right hand seen straight on without a mirror).

Despite the fact that the two hands are alike, they are also
distinct. A glove that fits the right hand doesn't fit the left, and
vice versa. Being distinct but equal, the hands form a natural
binary pair just as do a (1) and a (0). By using left- and right-
handed signals, we can create a binary 'digital' code. Mirror
image properties are also called "handedness" properties because
of this relationship between the left and right hands. In
chemistry, such properties are called "chiral" (pronounced ky-
ral) properties after the Greek work Cheir, "hand". The
Chiropticenes get their name from a combination of the word
chiral, because they exhibit handedness, and the word optic,
because they are optically switchable and optically readable.

Left Handed Form Right Handed Form

IBM Scientists Develop Carbon Nanotube Transistor Technology

IBM scientists have developed a breakthrough transistor technology that could


enable production of a new class of smaller, faster and lower power computer chips than
currently possible with silicon.
The researchers built the world's first array of transistors out of carbon nanotubes --
tiny cylinders of carbon atoms that measure as small as 10 atoms across and are 500 times
smaller than today's silicon-based transistors. The breakthrough is a new batch process for
forming large numbers of nanotube transistors.
Until now, nanotubes had to be positioned one at a time or by random chance, which
while fine for scientific experiments is slow and tedious for mass production.
The achievement is an important step in finding new materials and processes for
improving computer chips after silicon-based chips cannot be made any smaller -- a
problem chip makers are expected to face in about 10-20 years.
"This is a major step forward in our pursuit to build molecular-scale electronic
devices," said Phaedon Avouris, lead researcher and manager of IBM's Nanoscale Science
Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 7
Research Department. "Our studies prove that carbon nanotubes can compete with silicon
in terms of performance, and since they may allow transistors to be made much smaller,
they are promising candidates for a future nanoelectronic technology. This new process
gives us a practical way of making nanotube transistors, which is essential for future mass
production."

Using Carbon Nanotubes as Transistors in Chips

Depending on their size and shape, the electronic properties of carbon nanotubes can
be metallic or semiconducting. The problem scientists had faced in using carbon nanotubes
as transistors was that all synthetic methods of production yield a mixture of metallic and
semiconducting nanotubes which “stick together'' to form ropes or bundles.
This compromises their usefulness because only semiconducting nanotubes can be
used as transistors; and when they are stuck together, the metallic nanotubes overpower
the semiconducting nanotubes.
Beyond manipulating them individually, a slow and tedious process, there has been
no practical way to separate the metallic and semiconducting nanotubes -- a roadblock in
using carbon nanotubes to build transistors. The IBM team overcame this problem with
"constructive destruction", a technique that allows the scientists to produce only
semiconducting carbon nanotubes where desired and with the electrical properties required
to build computer chips.

New Technique: "CONSTRUCTIVE DESTRUCTION"

The basic premise of "constructive destruction" is that in order to construct a dense-array of


semiconducting nanotubes, the metallic nanotubes must be destroyed. This is
accomplished with an electric shockwave that destroys the metallic nanotubes, leaving only
the semiconducting nanotubes needed to build transistors.
Here is how it works:
• The scientists deposit ropes of "stuck together" metallic and semiconducting
nanotubes on a silicon-oxide wafer.
• A lithographic mask is projected onto the wafer to form electrodes (metal pads) over
the nanotubes. These electrodes act as a switch to turn the semiconducting
nanotubes on and off.
• Using the silicon wafer itself as an electrode, the scientists "switch-off" the
semiconducting nanotubes, which essentially block any current from traveling
through them.
• The metal nanotubes are left unprotected and an appropriate voltage is applied to
the wafer, destroying only the metallic nanotubes, since the semiconducting
nanotubes are now insulated.
• The result is a dense array of unharmed, working semiconducting nanotube
transistors that can be used to build logic circuits like those found in computer chips.

Moore's Law says that the number of transistors that can be packed on a chip doubles every
18 months, but many scientists expect that within 10-20 years, silicon will reach its physical
limits, halting the ability

to pack more transistors on a chip. Transistors are a key building block of electronic systems
-- they act as bridges that carry data from one place to another inside computer chips.
The more transistors on a chip, the faster the processing speed. This advance by IBM
scientists could have a profound impact on the future of chip performance.
Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 8
Nanowires

Two University of Texas at Austin chemical engineers have made a scientific


breakthrough in the production of far smaller silicon wires, using revolutionary methods that
could lead to development of other new materials with exciting new properties. Silicon wires
of this extremely small size will be needed in the construction of the computers of the
future and for optoelectronic devices, such as lasers, sensors, computer screens and other
flat panel displays.
Dr. Brian Korgel, 31, and Dr. Keith Johnston, 44, professors in the department of
chemical engineering have produced silicon "nanowires" using tiny particles of gold
suspended under pressure in a compressed fluid at a high temperature. Korgel and Johnston
are members of the multi-disciplinary Texas Materials Institute that conducts research in
metals, semiconductors, ceramics, polymers and composites. Their research in the world of
nanotechnology has been published recently in the journal Science.
"They have no idea how they are going to be making the next generation of devices
10 years from now. That's what we're working on," Korgel said.
There are one million nanometers in a millimeter. Today's designers are working toward
production of computer components that are 100 nanometers long. "We have made
components that are four nanometers long, so we are 25 times smaller," Korgel said.
The researchers produce their nanowires by heating silicon atoms connected to organic
molecules until the silicon atoms come loose and form free silicon atoms. This is done in the
presence of small clusters of gold atoms referred to as nanocrystals or quantum dots. The
quantum dots in this research consist of 100 to 200 atoms of gold. "The gold quantum dots
are the seeds that start the growth of silicon nanowires," Johnston explained.
The silicon atoms don't remain free for long, either congregating together or dissolving
within the gold quantum dots. "Fortunately for us, the silicon prefers to dissolve into the
gold nanocrystals," said Korgel.
When the silicon dissolves inside the gold particles and the silicon concentration
inside the gold becomes great enough, the gold ejects the silicon in the form of a wire.
Molecules called "capping ligands" can be attached chemically to the gold quantum dots
during their formation to keep them uniform in size. Ability to produce a uniform size is a
crucial factor when the goal is mass production of components.
"Ligands extend like hairs on the outside of the particles to keep the particles from
sticking together," Johnston said. "We're starting with uniform gold particles that produce
silicon wires with basically the same size."
The researchers' new method of making nanowires is revolutionary in its use of
supercritical fluids -- fluids that are put under high pressure and high temperatures, in this
case 5000 pounds per square inch and 500 degrees Celsius. "We have used supercritical
fluids to control chemical reactions for the last 15 years, but never for the nanoscale
materials," Johnston said.
Korgel added: "At that temperature we would expect the molecules to form a gas, but
the pressure squeezes the molecules back into a fluid. Although this fluid is not a liquid in
the sense that we think of liquids, it is, in fact, a supercritical fluid. These supercritical fluids
have a variety of very interesting properties in their own right, and we are starting to
exploit this unique medium to make new materials that cannot be made any other way."
The properties, or behavior, of the nanowires are affected by quantum rules that only
apply in the nanoworld. Learning to manipulate materials in this microscopic world could
open the door to discoveries of what are, in effect, entirely new materials.
"When we make things as small as this, it affects the material properties so that silicon no
longer really behaves like silicon," Korgel said. For example, silicon normally does not emit
light. But in the
Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 9
nanoworld, silicon can emit light. It can be used in the construction of extremely high
resolution light emitting devices that can, for example, be used as computer monitors and
TV screens.

"Instead of mining the Earth for a material with the appropriate material properties,
we can just tune the size of the quantum wire or quantum dot to engineer materials with
the desired properties," Korgel said.
In the future, Johnston said that nanowires may be used as connectors for quantum
dots. "As nanoparticles (quantum dots) are used as optoelectronic devices, nanowires will
be a natural way to connect them," Johnston said. "As quantum dot technology advances,
nanowires will be very useful."
Korgel says that the researchers now are testing what happens when prototype
devices are created out of such small materials, by putting electrodes at both ends of the
nanowires to "plug" them in and make little circuits.
"We are now trying to make a field effect transistor, a type of electronic device, using
these nanowires as a conduit for electrons," Korgel said. "It hasn't been done before, so we
want to see if it will work. We're trying to take these new materials and actually make
prototype devices."

The Nanotube Battery

NEC has used carbon nanotube technology to build a fuel cell with 10 times the
energy density of today's most advanced batteries, which could be used for powering
mobile phones and portable computers.
Working with the Japan Science and Technology Corporation and the Institute of
Research and Innovation, NEC has used one type of nanotube, a 'carbon nanohorn', to
construct the electrodes in the fuel cell.
NEC has been working on the technology since the discovery of the tube-like
structures by one of its research fellows, Sumio Iijima, in 1991. He extended the work to
the nanohorns three years ago.
The main characteristic of the carbon nanohorns is that when they group together an
aggregate (a secondary particle) of about 100nm is created. This creases an electrode with
a very large surface area where gas and liquid can permeate, increasing the efficiency of
the polymer electrolyte fuel cell developed at NEC. The nanohorn structure also means that
smaller particles platinum can be used as a catalyst, again giving greater efficiency and
increasing the reliability of the cell.
The solid type polymer cell, based around a fluoride polymer film as an electrolyte,
operates at room temperatures unlike other fuel cells and is also lightweight, with an
energy-conversion efficiency of 50%; more than double that of today's batteries.

How Nanotechnology Will Influence Manufacturing


Opportunities for Industry in the Application of Nanotechnology

Infrastructure Requirements
A wide range of production capabilities, training and facilities are required as part of
the creation of an infrastructure that will nurture nanotechnology and provide the basis for
industrial development. For example, mathematics, computer modeling and simulation
skills will be essential as well as an understanding of tools and standards. Frontier research
requires advanced instrumentation to be available across the board; from the level of
individual laboratories to national facilities. There is also a need for research on state-of-the-
art instruments and their deployment.
Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 10

Key issues are:


• The production of or access to specialist materials.
• The adoption of advanced manufacturing processes.
• Access to specialist tools needed for manufacturing, test, assembly and inspection.

• The installation of ultra-clean manufacturing facilities.


• The provision of adequate training facilities for the development of skilled manpower.
• It is worth noting that business opportunities will exist at all stages of development of
the new technology, including the provision of the basic requirements.

Materials for the Nano Industrial Revolution


Materials science and technology is fundamental to the majority of the applications of
nanotechnology. 'Raw' materials such as semiconductors, oxides and specialist organic and
inorganic chemicals, will need to meet new specifications and parameters. For example:

Nanoparticles: Controlled production of particles in the 1 - 100 nm size range is crucial,


and handling of these fine particles will be a key issue.

Quantum structures: Material purity is of the highest importance here, and research into
production methodology is required.

Multilayer thin films: These require clean deposition equipment and environment
(impurities and defects will ruin the properties of the films) with fast turn-around and high
throughput... Also, very high purity materials will be needed for sputtering and evaporation
sources.

Nanomechanical devices: The physical integrity of the material used to produce the
devices will be of key importance, given the strains and stresses to which it will be subject.

Nanoprobe materials: These are the materials required for the manufacture of tips for
scanning probe microscopes, the basic tools of nanotechnology. These need to be
chemically inert, physically stable materials capable of being fashioned reproducibly into
atomic sharp tips.

Biosensors and transducers: The capability of synthesizing ultra high purity specialist
organic chemicals having a range of terminating groups for these applications is required,
as well as ways of bonding these molecules reproducibly to the surfaces of semiconductors
and oxide materials

Advanced manufacturing processes:


Manufacturing processes at the nanoscale can involve accretion or removal of
material, or changes to the shape or form of material already present. Each of these
processes provides new challenges and opportunities, as follows:

Accretion of powders: New generations of processing equipment will be needed to deal


with nanopowders in the manufacture of nanocrystalline materials.

Quantum structures and devices: The problem of producing devices with critical
dimensions below 100nm, using 'top-down' techniques, is one that the electronics industry
is currently wrestling with. Currently, commercial lithography is based on optical methods,
Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 11
but the wavelengths of visible and near ultraviolet light are too long to be usable on the
nanometer scale. A range of alternatives is available, but parallel rather than serial writing
techniques are needed for scale-up to commercial manufacturing levels.

Deposition: Recent breakthroughs are making deposition on selected areas possible, in


high transmission mode. Until now, this has been achieved only through focused ion beam
sources operated in droplet mode - an approach which is restrictive in terms of the range of
materials that can be handled.

Cutting, milling: Only focused ion beam (FIB) techniques provide a means for selective
cutting or removal of material with sub-100nm accuracy. Although these techniques were
largely pioneered in

Europe - and the UK in particular - the present suppliers of such equipment are almost
exclusively American or Japanese companies.

Machine Tools and Instrumentation for Manufacture, Assembly, Test and


Inspection:
As structures become ever smaller, the necessity for on-line quality assurance test systems
for certification duties becomes more important and demanding. In the future, the
nanometer scale will be the precision standard for material analysis, control purposes and
also for material treatment. Already nano-analytical methods are used routinely for testing
in the manufacture of magnetic storage disks, electronic multilayer systems, and industrial
polishing processes.

Key areas of instrumentation and characterization include:

• Scanning probe techniques: observation + operation.


• Some aspects of electron microscopy.
• Some aspects of surface analysis.
• Field emission + field ion microscopy + atomic probe analysis.
• Nanomanipulators using principles of mechanical / optical / electric / magnetic / piezo
techniques.
• Test, calibration and measurement: Standards, benchmarks, procedures.
• Nanotools, nanomotors, nanomachines.
• Nanoprobes: production, characterization, multiprobes.
• Equipment to characterize magnetic / optical / electrical / mechanical properties of
nanostructures with high spatial resolution.
• Microfluidics.
• Focused ion beam technology.
• Computer software for data analysis and representation, simulation, modeling
An essential stage in the development of a large scale nanotechnology industry is the
creation of machine tools for the production of nanodevices, and test, measurement
and inspection techniques to aid manufacturers and provide quality control of nano
products. It is also an area where knowledge has been, and continues to be
transferred from research institutions to industry. It is the first nano area to become
economically active, including the creation on numerous small and medium-sized
companies.
Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 12
Machine tools for nanotechnology are already being developed in Japan, the USA and
(to a limited extent) in the UK. Not only is it already an economically viable aspect of
nanotechnology, but its strategic significance is very high. These machines will have to
underpin all future production of nanodevices, and it is very important that the UK should
play a key role in their development.

Ultra-clean manufacturing facilities


Some aspects of nanoscale manufacturing may require clean room technology - either full
scale facilities or 'table top' scale; but this will depend on the particular process or industry.

Training
Academic institutions and funding bodies are beginning to recognize the need for courses in
nanotechnology; and new modular and full-time Masters courses are in the process of being
developed by more than one institution and needs to be given to the contents of
undergraduate science courses, in the light of fundamental knowledge required for
nanoscale science; as well as the current philosophy of single-discipline research projects
for PhD students in this multidisciplinary era. However, there is no truly multidisciplinary
center for nanotechnology R&D.
In summary, industry needs suitable production methods for low cost manufacture of
a whole range of materials such as nanomaterials, nanoporous systems, corrosion
inhibitors, polymers, molecular sieves, ceramics, light absorbers and emitters, magnetic
nanomaterials, pigments, colloids and so on. For end products, like catalysts or adhesive
layers, a competitive market position can only be maintained if

the analytical equipment necessary for material characterization on an atomic or molecular


level is available. Also essential to the equation are people who are trained to understand
the new production methods, tools, analytical and testing techniques.
Finally, as materials at the nanometer scale may have unpredictable effects on living
matter, the possible toxic and other hazardous properties of various nanomaterials need
careful and sensitive investigation.

PART 2: C OM PU TER S

A Brief History of the Progression of Computer Technology

The First Electronic Computer: The ENIAC

In 1946, John Mauchly and John Presper Eckert


developed the ENIAC I (Electrical Numerical Integrator
and Calculator). The U.S. military sponsored their
research; they needed a calculating device for writing
artillery-firing tables (the settings used for different
weapons under varied conditions for target accuracy).
The Ballistics Research Laboratory heard about John
Mauchly's research at the University of Pennsylvania's Moore School
of Electrical Engineering. Mauchly had previously created several calculating machines,
some with small electric motors inside. In 1942 he had begun designing a better
calculating machine based on the work of John Atanasoff, which would use vacuum tubes
to speed up calculations.
On May 31, 1943, the military commission on the new computer began; Mauchly was
the chief consultant and Eckert was the chief engineer. Eckert was a graduate student
Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 13
studying at the Moore School when he met John Mauchly in 1943. It took the team about
one year to design the ENIAC and 18 months and 500,000 tax dollars to build it. By that
time, the war was over. The ENIAC was still put to work by the military doing calculations for
the design of a hydrogen bomb, weather prediction, cosmic-ray studies, thermal ignition,
random-number studies and wind-tunnel design.
The ENIAC contained 17,468 vacuum tubes, along with 70,000 resistors, 10,000
capacitors, 1,500 relays, 6,000 manual switches and 5 million soldered joints. It covered
1800 square feet of floor space, weighed 30 tons, consumed 160 kilowatts of electrical
power, and, when turned on, caused the city of Philadelphia to experience brownouts.
In one second, the ENIAC (one thousand times faster than any other calculating
machine to date) could perform 5,000 additions, 357 multiplications or 38 divisions. The use
of vacuum tubes instead of switches and relays created the increase in speed, but it was
not a quick machine to re-program. Programming changes would take the technician’s
weeks, and the machine always required long hours of maintenance. As a side note,
research on the ENIAC led to many improvements in the vacuum tube.
In 1948, Dr. John Von Neumann made several modifications to the ENIAC. The
ENIAC had performed arithmetic and transfer operations concurrently, which caused
programming difficulties. Von Neumann suggested that switches control code selection so
pluggable cable connections could remain fixed. He added a converter code to enable serial
operation.
In 1946, Eckert and Mauchly started the Eckert-Mauchly Computer Corporation. In
1949, their company launched the BINAC (BINary Automatic) computer that used magnetic
tape to store data.

The UNIVAC

The first UNIVAC computer was delivered to the Census Bureau in June 1951. Unlike
the ENIAC, the UNIVAC processed each digit serially. But it’s much higher design speed
permitted it to add two ten-digit numbers at a rate of almost 100,000 additions per second.
Internally, the UNIVAC operated at a

clock frequency of 2.25 MHz, which was no mean feat for vacuum tube circuits. The UNIVAC
also employed mercury delay-line memories. Delay lines did not allow the computer to
access immediately any item data held in its memory, but given the reliability problems of
the alternative Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) technology, this was a good technical choice.
Finally, the UNIVAC had placed strong emphasis on its input/output capabilities, being
designed specifically for data processing applications such as that of the Census Bureau. In
this connection, EMCC had developed a digital magnetic tape recording unit that could
deliver data to the UNIVAC at a rate of 40,000 binary digits (bits) per second. For a brief
period, Univac had captured a majority of the market for digital electronic computer
systems.

The Solid-State Computer

By 1948, the invention of the transistor


greatly changed the computer's
development. The transistor replaced the
large, cumbersome vacuum tube in
televisions, radios and computers. As a
result, the size of electronic machinery has
been shrinking ever since. The transistor was at work in the computer by 1956. Coupled
with early advances in magnetic-core memory, transistors led to second generation
computers that were smaller, faster, more reliable and more energy-efficient than their
Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 14
predecessors. The first large-scale machines to take advantage of this transistor technology
were early supercomputers, Stretch by IBM and LARC by Sperry-Rand.

The Stretch
IBM introduces the Stretch computing system, the most powerful computer of its day, which
pioneered such advanced systems concepts as lookahead, pipelining, the transistor and the
byte. The company also introduces the solid-state 7000 series computers, replacing the 700
series of vacuum-tube machines.

Throughout the early 1960's, there were a number of commercially successful second
generation computers used in business, universities, and government from companies such
as Burroughs, Control Data, Honeywell, IBM, Sperry-Rand, and others. These second
generation computers were also of solid state design, and contained transistors in place of
vacuum tubes. They also contained all the components we associate with the modern day
computer: printers, tape storage, disk storage, memory, operating systems, and stored
programs. One important example was the IBM 1401, which was universally accepted
throughout industry, and is considered by many to be the Model T of the computer industry.
By 1965, most large business routinely processed financial information using second
generation computers.

The IBM 1401


The IBM 1401 data processing system was the first computer system
to reach 10,000 units in sales. The system included the IBM 1403
printer, the industry's first commercial "chain" printer. The 1403 printer
-- four times faster than any competitor -- launched the era of high-
speed and high volume printing, and was not surpassed for print
quality until the advent of laser printing technology in the 1970s.

Third and Fourth Generation Computers

Though transistors were clearly an improvement over the vacuum tube, they still
generated a great deal of heat, which damaged the computer's sensitive internal parts. The
quartz rock eliminated this problem. Jack Kilby, an engineer with Texas Instruments,
developed the integrated circuit (IC) in 1958. The IC combined three electronic components
onto a small silicon disc, which was made from quartz. Scientists later managed to fit even
more components on a single chip, called a semiconductor. As a result, computers became
ever smaller as more components were squeezed onto the chip. Another third-generation
development included the use of an operating system that allowed machines to run

many different programs at once with a central program that monitored and coordinated
the computer's memory.
After the integrated circuits, the only place to go was down - in size, that is. Large
scale integration could fit hundreds of components onto one chip. By the 1980's, very large
scale integration squeezed hundreds of thousands of components onto a chip. Ultra-large
scale integration increased that number into the millions. The ability to fit so much onto an
area about half the size of a U.S. dime helped diminish the size and price of computers. It
also increased their power, efficiency and reliability. The Intel 4004 chip, developed in 1971,
took the integrated circuit one step further by locating all the components of a computer
(central processing unit, memory, and input and output controls) on a minuscule chip.
Whereas previously the integrated circuit had had to be manufactured to fit a special
purpose, now one microprocessor could be manufactured and then programmed to meet
any number of demands. Soon everyday household items such as microwave ovens,
television sets and automobiles with electronic fuel injection incorporated microprocessors.
Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 15
Such condensed power allowed everyday people to harness a computer's power.
They were no longer developed exclusively for large business or government contracts. By
the mid-1970's, computer manufacturers sought to bring computers to general consumers.

The Personal Computer

In 1972, Intel brought out its 8008 chip, capable of processing 8-bits of data, enough
to convey numbers and letters of the alphabet. In that same year, Xerox began working on
a personal computer at their Palo Alto Research Center. For the next several years, a team
of Xerox scientists worked on the "Alto," a small computer that would have become the first
PC if only the development team had been able to convince someone of its usefulness.
Likewise, in 1972 Digital Equipment Corporation, a minicomputer manufacturing
company headed by Kenneth Olsen, had a group of product engineers developing the DEC
Datacenter. This PC incorporated not only the computer hardware but the desk as well. The
DEC Datacenter could have put tremendous computing capability in the home or at work,
but management saw no value to the product and halted its development.
In the end, none of the giant companies whose names had been synonymous with
computers would introduce the PC to the world. There seemed to be no future in an
inexpensive product that would replace the million dollar mainframes that they were selling
as fast as they could make them.
In 1975, Rubik's Cube was put on store shelves and proved to
many that the human brain was incapable of complex problem solving.
But a ray of hope also appeared; the first PC was introduced. Micro
Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems, Inc. sold a kit for the MITS Altair
8800 that enabled computer hobbyists to assemble their own
computers. It had no monitor, no keyboard, no printer, and couldn't
store data, but the demand for it, like Rubik's Cube, was overwhelming.
The Altair proved that a PC was both possible and popular, but only with those people
who would spend hours in their basements with soldering irons and wire strippers. The
Altair, which looked like a control panel for a sprinkler system, didn't last, but it helped
launch one of the largest companies in the computer world and gave a couple of young
software programmers a start. In 1974, Bill Gates and Paul Allen wrote a version of BASIC
for the Altair and started a company called Microsoft Corporation.
In 1976, another computer kit was sold to hobbyists - the Apple I. Stephen
Wozniak sold his Volkswagen and Steve Jobs sold his programmable calculator to get
enough money to start Apple. In 1977, they introduced the Apple II, a pre-assembled PC
with a color monitor, sound, and graphics. It was popular, but everyone knew that a serious
computer didn't need any of this. The kits were just a hobby and the
Apple II was seen as a toy. Even the Apple name wasn't a serious,
corporate sounding name like IBM, Digital Equipment Corporation, or
Control Data. Apple introduced the floppy disk drive in 1978, allowing
Apple II users to store data on something other than the
cumbersome and unreliable tape cassettes that had been used up to
that point. But despite the popularity of PCs,

non-computer people still saw little reason to buy an expensive calculator when there were
other ways to do the same things. In 1979, that all changed.
When VisiCalc was introduced for the Apple II, non-computer people suddenly saw a
reason to buy a computer. VisiCalc, a spreadsheet program created by Dan Bricklin and
Bob Frankston, allowed people to change one number in a budget and watch the effect it
had on the entire budget. It was something new and valuable that could only be done with a
computer. For thousands of people, the toy, the computer few could find a use for, had been
transformed into a device that could actually do something worthwhile.
Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 16
Even with all of the success the early PC manufacturers had in the late 1970s and
early 1980s, the advances in microprocessor speeds, and the creation of software, the PC
was still not seen as a serious

business tool. Unknown to everyone in the computer industry; however, a huge oak tree
was about to drop an acorn that would fall close to the tree and change everything.

IBM Enters the Personal Computer Market

In July of 1980, IBM representatives met for the first time with
Microsoft's Bill Gates to talk about writing an operating system for IBM's
new hush-hush "personal" computer. Gates gave IBM a few ideas on
what would make a great home computer, among them to have Basic
written into the ROM chip. Microsoft had already produced several
versions of Basic for different computer systems beginning with the
Altair, so Gates was more than happy to write a version for IBM.
As for an operating system for the new computers, since Microsoft
had never written an operating system before, Gates had suggested
that IBM investigate an OS called CP/M (Control Program for
Microcomputers), written by Gary Kildall of Digital Research. Kindall had his Ph.D. in
computers and had written the most successful operating system of the time, selling over
600,000 copies of CP/M; his OS set the standard at that time.
IBM tried to contact Kildall for a meeting, executives met with Mrs. Kildall who
refused to sign a non-disclosure agreement. IBM soon returned to Bill Gates and gave
Microsoft the contract to write the new operating system, one that would eventually wipe
Kildall's CP/M out of common use. The "Microsoft Disk Operating System" or MS-DOS was
based on Q-OS, the "Quick and Dirty Operating System" written by Tim Paterson of Seattle
Computer Products. Q-OS was based on Gary Kildall's CP/M; Paterson had bought a CP/M
manual and used it as the basis to write his operating system in six weeks, Q-DOS was
different enough from CP/M to be considered legal. Microsoft bought the rights to Q-DOS for
$50,000, keeping the IBM deal a secret from Seattle Computer Products. Gates then talked
IBM into letting Microsoft retain the rights to market MS-DOS separate from the IBM PC
project. IBM felt that profits would be made mainly from the sale of the PC itself, and not
from the program that ran it. Gates proceeded to make a fortune from the licensing of MS-
DOS.
IBM had been observing the growing personal computer market for some time. They
had already made one dismal attempt to crack the market with their IBM 5100. At one
point, IBM considered buying the fledgling game company Atari to commandeer Atari's
early line of personal computers. However, IBM decided to stick with making their own
personal computer line and developed a brand new operating system to go with it. The
secret plans were referred to as "Project Chess". The code name for the new computer was
"Acorn". Twelve engineers, led by William C. Lowe, assembled in Boca Raton, Florida, to
design and build the "Acorn". On August 12, 1981, IBM released their new computer, re-
named the IBM PC. The "PC" stood for "personal computer" making IBM responsible for
popularizing the term "PC".
The first IBM PC ran on a 4.77 MHz Intel 8088 microprocessor. The PC came equipped
with 16 kilobytes of memory, expandable to 256k. The PC came with one or two 160k floppy
disk drives and an optional color monitor. The price tag started at $1,565, which would be
nearly $4,000 today. What really made the IBM PC different from previous IBM computers
was that it was the first one built from off the shelf parts (called open architecture) and
marketed by outside distributors (Sears & Roebucks and Computerland). The Intel chip was
chosen because IBM had already obtained the rights to manufacture
Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 17
the Intel chips. IBM had used the Intel 8086 for use in its Displaywriter Intelligent Typewriter
in exchange for giving Intel the rights to IBM's bubble memory technology.

The IBM Compatible or Clone

The PC marketplace changed radically after the introduction of the IBM PC in August
of 1981. As the IBM PC was built from commercially available off-the-shelf parts - a concept
similar to the original Altair microcomputer, companies began trying to clone it. This
created a generation of MS-DOS computers which called themselves compatible, but which
weren't 100% compatible. This created numerous headaches for unsuspecting end users.
Some systems offered the capability to run both CP/M and MS-DOS. The first company to
successfully build a 100% compatible IBM PC clone was Compaq

computer, who introduced their first system as what they called a portable. Its size and
weight made it a luggable computer. Then other companies followed with true IBM
compatibles, mostly built overseas in Taiwan. Most of the CP/M computers quickly
disappeared, as did the not true compatibles, leaving their owners in a category which is
now well known and feared in the PC world - orphaned computer owners.
Just as IBM appeared to conquer the marketplace by 1983, Apple Computer
introduced the Macintosh, whose graphical user interface and mouse presented a totally
new approach to personal computing. Microsoft had to walk a careful narrow line, saying
nice things about the Mac because they worked closely with Apple, while not offending IBM.
At the same time Bill Gates had plans for his own graphical user interface, which he called
Windows. Gates was convinced that a graphical user interface based operating system was
the future.
IBM also had plans for its own new operating system, trying to break its reliance on
Microsoft by developing their own character-based but windowing operating system they
called TopView. This went absolutely nowhere. The heralded new Intel 80286 processor also
wasn't fast enough to run Microsoft's Windows at acceptable speed, and had a design flaw
related to multitasking which caused Industry Analysis to refer to it as "brain dead".
Microsoft and IBM continued to argue over operating systems, with Microsoft trying to
convince IBM to go with Windows. IBM however opted to develop their own GUI operating
system which they named OS/2, and enlisted Microsoft's help in writing it. This created
years of doublespeak by the two companies as to where each product was going to fit into
the marketplace. Meanwhile the millions of IBM PC and compatible users got along fine with
plain old DOS, and Apple's Macintosh with a GUI-that worked continued to gain market
acceptance.
In 1986, Compaq computer beat IBM to the punch and introduced the world's first
80386-based PC, using an Intel processor which finally had the power and design to run a
GUI-based operating system. By this time, IBM's PC sales were taken over by clone PC sales.
In fact, the word clone was a misnomer, as these copy-cat computers actually offered better
performance and features, and more bang for the buck.
The relationship between IBM and Microsoft finally exploded and evaporated, with
IBM taking over the job of trying to write OS/2, and with Microsoft
going full speed ahead with a market plan for Windows to dominate
the world. The power of the 386 processor made this happen, and
Windows 3.0 actually worked - to a degree. It was released in May,
1990, and was a complete overhaul of the Windows environment.
With the capability to address memory beyond 640K and a much
more powerful user interface, independent software vendors started
developing Windows applications with vigor. The powerful new
applications helped Microsoft sell more than 10 million copies of
Windows, making it the best-selling graphical user interface in the history of computing.
Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 18

New and Emerging Computer Technology

The Quantum Computer

What is it, and how does it work? A quantum particle, such as an electron or atomic
nucleus, can exist in two states at the same time -- say, with its spin in the up and down
states. This constitutes a quantum bit, or qubit. When the spin is up, the atom can be read
as a 1, and the spin down can be read as a 0. This corresponds with the digital 1s and 0s
that make up the language of traditional computers. The spin of an atom up or down is the
same as turning a transistor on and off, both represent data in terms of 1s and 0s.
Qubits differ from traditional digital computer bits, however, because an atom or
nucleus can be in a state of "superposition," representing simultaneously both 0 and 1 and
everything in between. Moreover, without interference from the external environment, the
spins can be "entangled" in such a way that effectively wires together a quantum
computer's qubits. Two entangled atoms act in concert with each other -- when one is in the
up position, the other is guaranteed to be in the down position.
The combination of superposition and entanglement permit a quantum computer to
have enormous power, allowing it to perform calculations in a massively parallel, non-linear
manner,

exponentially faster than a conventional computer. For certain types of calculations -- such
as complex algorithms for cryptography or searching -- a quantum computer can perform
billions of calculations in a single step. So, instead of solving the problem by adding all the
numbers in order, a quantum computer would add all the numbers at the same time.
To input and read the data in a quantum computer, a team of scientists uses a
nuclear magnetic resonance machine, which uses a giant magnet and is similar to the
medical devices commonly used to image human soft tissues. A tiny test-tube filled with the
special molecule is placed inside the machine and the scientists use radio-frequency pulses
as software to alter atomic spins in the particular way that enables the nuclei to perform
calculations.

IBM-Led Team Unveils Most-Advanced Quantum Computer

At a technical conference in August 2000 at Stanford University, IBM-Almaden


researcher Isaac Chuang described his team's experiments that demonstrated the world's
most advanced quantum computer and the tremendous potential such devices have to
solve problems that conventional computers cannot handle.
Dr. Isaac Chuang, research staff member at IBM's Almaden Research Center (San
Jose, Calif.), holds a quantum computer -- a glass tube containing specially
designed molecules that can solve some of the most difficult
mathematical problems exponentially faster than a conventional
computer.
"Quantum computing begins where Moore's Law ends -- about the year
2020, when circuit features are predicted to be the size of atoms and
molecules," says Isaac L. Chuang, who led the team of scientists from IBM
Research, Stanford University and the University of Calgary. "Indeed, the
basic elements of quantum computers are atoms and molecules."
Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 19
Quantum computers get their power by taking advantage of certain quantum physics
properties of atoms or nuclei that allow them to work together as quantum bits, or "qubits,"
to be the computer's processor and memory. By interacting with each other while being
isolated from the external environment, theorists have predicted -- and this new result
confirms -- that qubits could perform certain calculations exponentially faster than
conventional computers.
The new quantum computer contains five qubits -- five fluorine atoms within a
molecule specially designed so the fluorine nuclei's "spins" can interact with each other as
qubits, be programmed by radiofrequency pulses and be detected by nuclear magnetic
resonance instruments similar to those commonly used in hospitals and chemistry labs.

Using the molecule, Chuang's team solved in one step a mathematical problem for
which conventional computers require repeated cycles. The problem is called "order-
finding" -- finding the period of a particular function -- which is typical of many basic
mathematical problems that underlie important applications such as cryptography.
While the potential for quantum computing is huge and recent progress is
encouraging, the challenges remain daunting. IBM's five-qubit quantum computer is a
research instrument. Commercial quantum computers are still many years away, since they
must have at least several dozen qubits before difficult real-world problems can be solved.
"This result gives us a great deal of confidence in understanding how quantum
computing can evolve into a future technology," Chuang says. "It reinforces the growing
realization that quantum computers may someday be able to live up to their potential of
solving in remarkably short times problems that are so complex that the most powerful
supercomputers can't calculate the answers even if they worked on them for millions of
years."
Chuang says the first applications are likely to be as a co-processor for specific
functions, such as database lookup and finding the solution to a difficult mathematical
problem. Accelerating word processing or Web surfing would not be well-suited to a
quantum computer's capabilities.
Chuang presented his team's latest result today at Stanford University at the Hot
Chips 2000 conference, which is organized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics
Engineers' (IEEE) Computer Society. His co-authors are Gregory Breyta and Costantino S.
Yannoni of IBM-Almaden, Stanford

University graduate students Lieven M.K .Vandersypen and Matthias Steffen, and theoretical
computer scientist Richard Cleve of the University of Calgary. The team has also submitted
a technical report of their experiment to the scientific journal, Physical Review Letters.

History of Quantum Computing

When quantum computers were first proposed in the 1970s and 1980s (by theorists such as
the late Richard Feynmann of California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.; Paul
Benioff of Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois; David Deutsch of Oxford U. in England.,
and Charles Bennett of IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, N.Y.), many
scientists doubted that they could ever be made practical. But in 1994, Peter Shor of AT&T
Research described a specific quantum algorithm for factoring large numbers exponentially
faster than conventional computers -- fast enough to break the security of many public-key
cryptosystems. Shor's algorithm opened the doors to much more effort aimed at realizing
the quantum computers' potential. Significant progress has been made by numerous
research groups around the world.

Chuang is currently among the world's leading quantum computing experimentalists.


He also led the teams that demonstrated the world's first 2-qubit quantum computer (in
1998 at University of California Berkeley) and 3-qubit quantum computer (1999 at IBM-
Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 20
Almaden). The order-finding result announced today is the most complex algorithm yet to
be demonstrated by a quantum computer.

Optical Computers

In most modern computers, electrons travel between transistor switches on metal


wires or traces to gather process and store information. The optical computers of the future
will instead use photons traveling on optical fibers or thin films to perform these functions.
But entirely optical computer systems are still far into the future. Right now scientists are
focusing on developing hybrids by combining electronics with photonics. Electro-optic
hybrids were first made possible around 1978, when researchers
realized that photons could respond to electrons through certain
media such as lithium niobate (LiNbO3). To make the thin polymer
films for electro-optic applications, NASA scientists dissolve a
monomer (the building block of a polymer) in an organic solvent.
This solution is then put into a growth cell with a quartz window. An
ultraviolet lamp shining through this window creates a chemical
reaction, causing a thin polymer film to deposit on the quartz.

An ultraviolet lamp causes the entire quartz surface to become coated, but shining a
laser through the quartz can cause the polymer to deposit in specific patterns. Because a
laser is a thin beam of focused light, it can be used to draw exact lines. A laser beam's
focus can be as small as a micron-sized spot (1 micron is 1-millionth of a meter, or 1/25,000
of an inch), so scientists can deposit the organic materials on the quartz in very
sophisticated patterns. By painting with light, scientists can create optical circuits that may
one day replace the electronics currently used in computers.
In the optical computer of the future electronic circuits and wires will be replaced by
a few optical fibers and films, making the systems more efficient with no interference, more
cost effective, lighter and more compact.
The thin films allow us to transmit information using light. And because we're working
with light, we're working with the speed of light without generating as much heat as
electrons. We can move information faster than electronic circuits, and without the need to
remove damaging heat.
Multiple frequencies of light can travel through optical components without
interference, allowing photonic devices to process multiple streams of data simultaneously.
And the optical components permit a much higher data rate for any one of these streams
than electrical conductors. Complex programs that take 100 to 1,000 hours to process on
modern electronic computers could eventually take an hour or less on photonic computers.
The speed of computers becomes a pressing problem as electronic circuits reach
their maximum limit in network communications. The growth of the Internet demands faster
speeds and larger

bandwidths than electronic circuits can provide. Electronic switching limits network speeds
to about 50 gigabits per second (1 gigabit (GB) is 1 billion bits).
Terabit speeds are already needed to accommodate the 10 to 15 percent per month
growth rate of the Internet, and the increasing demand for bandwidth-intensive data such
as digital video (1 TB is 1 trillion bits). All optical switching using optical materials can
relieve the escalating problem of bandwidth limitations imposed by electronics.
Last year Lucent Technologies' Bell Laboratory introduced technology with the
capacity to carry the entire world's Internet traffic simultaneously over a single optical
cable. Optical computers will someday eliminate the need for the enormous tangle of wires
used in electronic computers today. Optical computers will be more compact and yet will
have faster speeds, larger bandwidths and more capabilities than modern electronic
computers.
Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 21
Optical components like the thin-films developed by NASA are essential for the
development of these advanced computers. By developing components for electro-optic
hybrids in the present, NASA scientists are helping to make possible the amazing optical
computers that will someday dominate the future.

Nanotechnology: The Coming Revolution in Manufacturing

Ralph C. Merkle, Ph.D., Research Scientist, Xerox PARC: Testimony to the U.S.
House of Representatives Committee on Science, Subcommittee on Basic
Research, June 22, 1999.

Introduction

For centuries manufacturing methods have gotten more precise, less expensive, and
more flexible. In the next few decades, we will approach the limits of these trends. The limit
of precision is the ability to get every atom where we want it. The limit of low cost is set by
the cost of the raw materials and the energy involved in manufacture. The limit of flexibility
is the ability to arrange atoms in all the patterns permitted by physical law.
Most scientists agree we will approach these limits but differ about how best to
proceed, on what nanotechnology will look like, and on how long it will take to develop.
Much of this disagreement is caused by the simple fact that, collectively, we have only
recently agreed that the goal is feasible and we have not yet sorted out the issues that this
creates. This process of creating a greater shared understanding both of the goals of
nanotechnology and the routes for achieving those goals is the most important result of
today's research.

The Goal

Nanotechnology (or molecular nanotechnology to refer more specifically to the goals


discussed here) will let us continue the historical trends in manufacturing right up to the
fundamental limits imposed by physical law. It will let us make remarkably powerful
molecular computers. It will let us make materials over fifty times lighter than steel or
aluminum alloy but with the same strength. We'll be able to make jets, rockets, cars or even
chairs that, by today's standards, would be remarkably light, strong, and inexpensive.
Molecular surgical tools, guided by molecular computers and injected into the blood stream
could find and destroy cancer cells or invading bacteria, unclog arteries, or provide oxygen
when the circulation is impaired.
Nanotechnology will replace our entire manufacturing base with a new, radically
more precise, radically less expensive, and radically more flexible way of making products.
The aim is not simply to replace today's computer chip making plants, but also to replace
the assembly lines for cars, televisions, telephones, books, surgical tools, missiles,
bookcases, airplanes, tractors, and all the rest. The objective is a pervasive change in
manufacturing, a change that will leave virtually no product untouched. Economic progress
and military readiness in the 21st Century will depend fundamentally on maintaining a
competitive position in nanotechnology.

Self Replication and Low Cost

Many researchers think self replication will be the key to unlocking nanotechnologies
full potential, moving it from a laboratory curiosity able to expensively make a few small
molecular machines and a handful of valuable products to a robust manufacturing
technology able to make myriads of products for the whole planet. We know self replication
can inexpensively make complex products with great precision: cells are programmed by
DNA to replicate and make complex systems -- including giant redwoods, wheat, whales,
Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 22
birds, pumpkins and more. We should likewise be able to develop artificial programmable
self replicating molecular machine systems -- also known as assemblers -- able to make a
wide range of products from graphite, diamond, and other non-biological materials. The first
groups to develop assemblers will have a historic window for economic, military, and
environmental impact.

What Needs to be Done?

Developing nanotechnology will be a major project -- just as developing nuclear weapons or


lunar rockets were major projects. We must first focus our efforts on developing two things:
the tools with which to build the first molecular machines, and the blueprints of what we are
to build. This will require the cooperative efforts of researchers across a wide range of
disciplines: scanning probe microscopy, supramolecular chemistry, protein engineering, self
assembly, robotics, materials science, computational chemistry, self replicating systems,
physics, computer science, and more. This work must focus on fundamentally new
approaches and methods: incremental or evolutionary improvements will not be sufficient.
Government funding is both appropriate and essential for several reasons: the benefits will
be pervasive across companies and the economy; few if any companies will have the
resources to pursue this alone; and development will take many years to a few decades
(beyond the planning horizon of most private organizations).

References

A Brief History of Computing: http://ox.compsoc.net/~swhite/history.html

A Brief History of Electronics: http://www.tmeg.com/esp/e_hist/ehist5.htm

Carbon Nanohorns Make Efficient Fuel Cells:


http://www.electronicstimes.com/story/OEG20010905S0023

History Of The Microcomputer Revolution: http://exo.com/~wts/mits0029.HTM

How Does a Quantum Computer Work?: http://www.howstuffworks.com/question475.htm

IBM Archives, 1959: http://www.w3c.org/TR/1999/REC-html401-19991224/loose.dtd

IBM Archives, 1960: http://www-1.ibm.com/ibm/history/history/year_1960.html

IBM Scientists Develop Carbon Nanotube Transistor Technology:


http://www.ibm.com/news/2001/04/27.phtml

IBM-Led Team Unveils Most-Advanced Quantum Computer:


http://www.research.ibm.com/resources/news/20000815_quantum.shtm

Inventors of the Modern Computer: http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa121598.htm

Molecular Electronics Technology: http://www.calmec.com/molecula1.htm

Nanotechnology: The Coming Revolution in Manufacturing:


http://www.house.gov/science/merkle_062299.htm
Current and Emerging Electronic And Computer Technologies 23

Nikola Tesla: Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2000

Opportunities for Industry in the Application of Nanotechnology: http://www.nano.org.uk/section2.htm

Principles of the Chiropticene Switch: http://www.calmec.com/ChiroSwPrin.htm

The ENIAC I: http://inventors.about.com/library/weekly/aa060298.htm

The UNIVAC and the Legacy of the ENIAC:


http://www.library.upenn.edu/special/gallery/mauchly/jwm11.html