Monday, February 18, 2008

Transcending Moore's Law

Back on Sept. 27, 2004 published an article by Steve Jurvetson entitled Transcending Moore's Law with Molecular Electronics and Nanotechnology. The article is a great overview of Moore's Law and the impact it will have on the fields of computing, biotechnology, and molecular engineering. There are some nice graphics to help those new to this idea conceptualize it. Curiously this article's intended audience is Venture Capitalists (people with money looking to invest it). If VCs are getting into the action, and they sure seem to be, these fields will begin to expand and advance rapidly.

I particularly like the section on Molecular Electronics (starting on page 7) where Jurvetson gives examples of size, power, cost, etc. changes that molecular electronics will bring.

His discussion of Nanotechnology is also excellent (starting on page 9). Here is one of my favorite passages about nanoscale things from this article:
Nanotechnology is more than a linear improvement with scale; everything changes.
Quantum entanglement, tunneling, ballistic transport, frictionless rotation of superfluids, and several other phenomena have been regarded as “spooky” by many of the smartest scientists, even Einstein, upon first exposure.

For a simple example of nanotech’s discontinuous divergence from the “bulk” sciences, consider the simple aluminum Coke can. If you take the inert aluminum metal in that can and grind it down into a powder of 20-30nm particles, it will spontaneously explode in air. It becomes a rocket fuel catalyst. The energetic properties of matter change at that scale. The surface area to volume ratios become relevant, and even the inter-atomic distances in a metal lattice change from surface effects.

If you are interested in how Nanotechnology and Molecular Electronics may keep Moore's Law alive and well for the next 20 years or so this piece is worth a read.

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