NEMS history and challenges

from the take-it-from-the-top-down dept.
Waldemar Perez writes "This is one of the most interesting articles I have found on NEMS. It was published in Physics World magazine and talks about some early NEMS working prototypes and the challenges facing NEMS.

"With the advent of NEMS, several groups are investigating fast logic gates, switches and even computers that are entirely mechanical. The idea is not new. Charles Babbage designed the first mechanical computer in the 1820s, which is viewed as the forerunner to the modern computer. His ideas were abandoned in the 1960s when the speed of nanosecond electronic logic gates and integrated circuits vastly outperformed moving elements. But now that NEMS can move on timescales of a nanosecond or less, the established dogma of the digital electronic age needs careful re-examination. But there remains a gap between today's NEMS devices that are sculpted from bulk materials and those that will ultimately be built atom by atom. In the future, complex molecular-scale mechanical devices will be mass-produced by placing millions of atoms with exquisite precision or by some form of controlled self-assembly. This will be true nanotechnology. Nature has already mastered such remarkable feats of atomic assembly, forming molecular motors and machinery that can transport biochemicals within cells or move entire cells".

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