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Molecules Can Compute!

William L. Warren*, a, Bruce E. Gnadea, c, Lawrence H. Duboisa, and John Pazikb

aDefense Advanced Research Projects Agency
3701 North Fairfax Dr., Arlington, VA 22203-1714, USA

bOffice of Naval Research
North Quincy St., Arlington, VA 22217-5660, USA

cCurrent address: Univ. of North Texas, Materials Science Dept.
P.O. Box 305310, Denton, TX 76203-5310

This is an abstract for a presentation given at the
Seventh Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology.
There will be a link from here to the full article when it is available on the web.


The rapid miniaturization of electronics has driven much of the development of advanced computation, communication and information systems. To continue this trend far into the next century, it is believed that computers will be assembled using molecular-scale components, and that the fabrication will be by some sort of self-assembly process. As a result of this thinking, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is sponsoring an innovative program in Molecular-scale Electronics (Moletronics). This program is focussed on developing technologies based on the directed self-assembly of molecules, nanoparticles, and/or nanotubes to act as electronic components, devices, and interconnects. Recently, there have been a number of major break-throughs in the fabrication and demonstration of nanometer-scale molecular electronic components. In addition, unique designs have been proposed that would allow the integration of molecular-scale components into an ultra-dense memory for generation-after-next computers.

The long-term goal of the DARPA Moletronics program is to provide moderate computational power and high-density memory in an extremely small, low-power format (e.g., 'a Pentium on a pin-head'). The ultimate desire for molecular electronics is to use molecules, nanoparticles, and/or nanotubes to achieve further miniaturization, greater functionality, and faster clock rates for advanced electronic systems all at substantially reduced cost. The ability to directly interconnect functional molecules to each other and to the outside world through novel input/output schemes is an area that will have a high pay-off in many applications. These include: swarms of micro-robots/micro-sensors, high-speed image and data processing, wargaming simulations, and applications in which low-power, mega-miniaturized electronic components are critical. Top- down architectural approaches that are inherently defect tolerant will likely play a key role in the realization of molecule based systems. We will demonstrate various system architectures to implement molecules and/or nanoparticles for computation, and show how molecular electronics can take modern device technology far beyond the traditional semiconductor "roadmap."

*Corresponding Address:
William L. Warren
Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency
3701 North Fairfax Dr.
Arlington, VA 22203-1714, USA


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