Self-assembling nanotech becomes reality

This photo, taken with an electron microscope, shows holes in a processing chip. The gaps insulate the chip's wiring, improve processing speed and lowering energy consumption. IBM has found a way to use the designs of nature in building the next generation of powerful computer chips.

The breakthrough marks the first time chips have been made with a self-assembling nanotechnology, using the same process that forms seashells and snowflakes, company officials said in interviews Wednesday in San Francisco.

IBM referred to that as a self-assembly, because the holes form on their own, in much the same way that the crystals form on a snowflake, or the lines form on a seashell.

But it’s not any kind of step toward a machine reproducing itself.  It assembles itself “in the same sense that a seashell assembles itself,” Brookwood said. “But the science fiction notion of a machine that’s thinking, ‘If I put another nut here, I’ll be better’ — we’re a long way from that.”

Source:  San Francisco Chronicle

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