The Future of Nanotechnology: Block Co-Polymer Lithography Will Help Computer Chips Use Less Energy and Increase Processing Speed

Smaller Technology is Better

Everything is supersized and maximized these days from the cars we buy to the meals we eat. But now scientists are telling us that bigger isn’t always better. Technology is getting small, so small in fact that you need an electron microscope to see it. This new science is nanotechnology. Nano- is the prefix for one-billionth (10-9); a nanometer is a billionth of a meter, a millionth of a millimeter. That’s about three to five atoms wide and is 10,000-25,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.

How Nanotechnology Can Benefit Computing

Nanotechnology means smaller, lighter computers. A nanocomputer chip, assembled out of individual molecules, would be three or four orders of magnitude smaller than those currently being built, and considerably faster as well. Nanocomputers in the future may not be controlled directly by a human operator, but by programs on tiny molecular strands of information similar to chromosomes, containing the instructions that the nanomachines will ‘need to function.

Block Co-Polymer Lithography Technology Coming Soon

The scientists have for the first time devised a technology, called block co-polymer lithography, to make square, nanoscale, chemical patterns — from the bottom up — that may be used in the manufacture of integrated circuit chips as early as 2011. Led by Craig Hawker, materials professor and director of the Materials Research Laboratory at UCSB, with professors Glenn Fredrickson and Edward J. Kramer, the researchers have developed a novel process for creating features on silicon wafers that are between five and 20 nanometers thick. This will dramatically increase the computer’s processing speed.

Cause for Concern Over Carbon Nanotubes

Carbon nanotubes, prized for their high electrical and thermal conductivity, tensile strength, and toughness are the building blocks of nanotechnology. There is new cause for concern over this type of nanotechnology. According to recent research, carbon nanotubes are shaped like asbestos and can encourage tumor growth, but further investigation is needed to determine whether they do pose risks to humans.

This post is part of the series: The Future of Green Technology

Carbon-free computing is the aim of many computer manufacturers.
  1. How Computer Manufactuers are Using Eco-Friendly Materials to Reduce Toxins
  2. How Future Nanotechnology Can Help Computer Technologies