from the bits-and-pieces dept.
According to an article in the New York Times (18 August 2000), chemists at the University of California at Los Angeles are reporting a further advance in the effort to produce electronic circuitry on a molecular scale. (Note: access to the Times site is free, but requires registration. To avoid logging in, read instead this version at the San Jose Mercury News.)
In an article published in the 18 August 2000 issue of Science, the U.C.L.A. team, led by James Heath and J.Fraser Stoddart, says it has succeeded in using a molecule to create an electronic switch that can be reconfigured — turned on and off, and on again — like a transistor.
UPDATED: UCLA has also posted a lengthy press release in which the researchers discuss their work in some detail. It's a useful overview of the work, straight from the source.
Previous research had produced molecular switches that could change their state only once — on to off, or vice versa — or could operate only for a limited time or at very low temperatures. James Heath was involved in this previous work, in collaboration with Stan Williams at Hewlett-Packard Labs. In June, Heath and Williams were awarded the Julius Springer Prize for Applied Physics, one of the most prestigious international awards in the field, for their work in nanotechnology and molecular electronics.
The latest achievement is a significant step toward building a new generation of memory devices and computers that are far more powerful and consume less power than today's microelectronic systems.
The HP Labs web site also presents an interview with Williams, on the future of molecular electronics.