Researchers have been hard at work for the past few years trying to build computer chips using self-assembling circuitry
built of molecules -- meaning that they're incredibly teensy. Some researchers at MIT seem to have gotten the hang of this nano-business, according to a paper just published in Nature Nanotechnology
(which also happens to be our favorite magazine after Offset Print Enthusiast
). They've made a pretty good leap forward recently, by using electron-beam lithography to make patterns of nano-posts on a silicon chip, which are deposited with special polymers, resulting in a hookup between the polymer and the posts which arrange themselves into useful patterns all on their own. The MIT
researchers have found the polymers they're testing capable of producing a wide variety of patterns that are useful in designing circuitry. In the short term, uses could include magnetic nanoscale patterns being stamped onto the surfaces of hard disks using the tech, but there's a lot more researching to be done before the self-assemblers get busy in consumer goods.