from the molectronics dept.
An extensive article in the New York Times ("Clever Wiring Harnesses Tiny Switches", by K. Chang, 17 July 2001) provides an overview of recent advances in the field of molecular electronics. The article focuses on work by Hewlett-Packard Labs. HP was awarded a patent on 3 July 2001 for a wiring strategy that takes describes how to connect molecular-scale devices by essentially assigning each switch a random marker that allows signals to be routed to it. The method is important because, as the NYT states, "conventional wires are too wide to attach to such molecular components, and the prospect of trying to hook together billions of components or more is daunting, if not impossible." The article quotes HP Labs research director Stanley Williams: "The current patent really is the blueprint for the research we're going to be doing for the next four years." HP was awarded another patent on a molecular memory device in October 2000.
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The article also notes that "researchers have already constructed the tiniest of components — molecules that act as switches — and they are now starting to tackle the harder problem: how to wire the tiny switches together into useful devices." The demonstration in June 2001 of a functional single-molecule switch is highlighted.