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The Future of Nanotech

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Nanotechnology: Why It Matters

Matthew Nordan, President of Lux Research
Interest in nanotech is strong because standard silicon techniques have nearly reached their limit--CPUs and similar products can't get much smaller with current technology because makers can't keep stuffing more and more transistors in the same space. With nanotech, they can.

Materials shrunk to a few billionths of a meter go crazy. Magnets demagnetize, and conventional techniques of semiconductor information processing--used for everything from storing data to moving bits and bytes around your PC--don't work. But though the rules change, they can be exploited in ways that offer more, not less, functionality and speed. And it will all eventually cost less, too.

This is the world of nanotechnology, and you're already starting to live in it. "The whole trillion-dollar information technology industry is based on the continuing drive of miniaturization," says Thomas Theis, director of physical sciences at IBM's Watson Research Center. Imagine, he says, how big that economy can be when you can get a million times the complexity of today's information systems for the same dollars.

Nanotech research by government and private industry promises to create breakthroughs across information technology--creating dramatically faster, smaller, and cheaper devices that will permit ubiquitous computing, some forms of which we haven't conceived of yet--along with enhancing just about everything else humans make.

"We and others are using nanotechnology to create smaller and smaller chips that have more and more power and communicate with everything around them," comments Nantero CEO Greg Schmergel. "Everything in your home and office and car will have intelligence and the information you need."

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