IBM researchers have come up with a novel approach to nanotechnology that might provide alternative circuits in as little as two years.
IBM's current approach involves moving entire molecules, not electrons, as circuits generally do. And while the process is not easily resettable - for now, the approach lends itself to a "compute-once" device - researchers say the process was developed surprisingly quickly, fast enough to make them believe a resettable version can be achieved relatively quickly.
IBM discovered that when carbon monoxide molecules are arranged in a precise pattern, "nudging" one of them with an ultra-high-vacuum scanning tunneling microscope causes the others to move in a fixed pattern. IBM researchers then positioned the molecules in such a way to create a three-input sorter, a simple circuit, which measured 12 nanometers x 17 nanometers.
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