Thursday, January 25, 2007

Molecular computer moves closer to reality

LOS ANGELES, CA, United States (UPI) -- U.S. scientists have conducted the first successful test of an ultra-dense memory device that is expected to lead to the creation of a molecular computer.

A team of UCLA and California Institute of Technology chemists says its 160-kilobit memory device uses interlocked molecules manufactured in the UCLA laboratory of J. Fraser Stoddart, director of the California NanoSystems Institute.

The memory is based on a series of perpendicular, crossing nanowires, similar to a tic-tac-toe board, with 400 bottom wires and another 400 crossing top wires. Located at each crossing and serving as the storage element are approximately 300 man-made molecules, Stoddart said.

The molecules can be switched between two different states, and each junction of a crossbar can be addressed individually by controlling voltages applied to the appropriate top and bottom crossing wires, forming a bit at each nanowire crossing.

The 160-kilobit molecular memory was fabricated at a density of 100 billion bits per square centimeter -- 'a density predicted for commercial memory devices in approximately 2020,' Stoddart said.

The complex research is explained in the current issue of the journal Nature.

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