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 Nanotechnology is all about innovations. Essentially, nanotechnology is the next innovation for mankind. Although it may seem as though nanotechnology is years away, companies are already using nanotechnology to produce better products and further human exploration of knowledge.




In September 2002, Hewlett-Packard's lead molecular scientist, Stan Williams, announced at a conference in Stockholm that the company had developed a molecular memory chip one square micron in size -- and the process to manufacture it.

One micron is so tiny that more than a thousand of the circuits in the memory chip could fit on the end of a strand of human hair.

The news marked a big validation of the nanotechnology research that Williams and HP computer architect Phil Kuekes first started in 1996 at HP Labs. The tiny device they and their team created has more than 10 times the switches in current memory chips. And this was just a precursor of even smaller circuits, which if mass produced, will give HP a major advantage in making vastly more powerful, less costly devices.

HP may not be known for its semiconductor prowess, but Williams and Kuekes' work in molecular electronics has made the Palo Alto computing and printing giant a leader in nanotechnology. One nanometer is about 1/1000 the size of a cell or 100,000 times thinner than a human hair.

Williams and his team of 30 work in a building that houses the preserved offices of HP founders Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard. In these hallowed halls they are researching ways to make computer chips at the atomic level, smaller than a bacteria or a virus.

If they succeed in their mission, HP could begin deploying a new manufacturing technique within the next three to five years. This technique allows an entire wafer of circuits to be stamped out quickly and cheaply from a master mold.

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Monday, January 19, 2004