Tomorrow's Technology

The Future of Nanotech

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Nanotech's Power and Promise

Five ways nanotech will be tapped in the next five years:

Chip fabrication: Extreme ultraviolet lithography employs a series of mirrors to direct 13-nanometer-wavelength light to print features at the 32-nanometer scale. The smaller scale will yield chips that run much faster.

Heat sinks: Carbon nanotubes promise several times greater thermal efficiency in connecting today's ever-faster and ever-hotter silicon to heat sinks.

Nonvolatile memory: Manufacturers are competing furiously to commercialize nanotech-based memory. In July, Freescale Semiconductor began shipping its Magnetoresistive Random Access Memory (MRAM) chips, which have many of the same benefits as Nantero's NRAM (discussed above). MRAM should first replace battery-backed SRAM in networking, security, gaming, and data storage products. Eventually, it will also make its way into cell phones and PCs.

Batteries: Already on the market, lithium ion batteries using multiwalled nanotubes are safer and more effective, with up to ten times the life and five times the available power, according to some makers. Other dramatic battery enhancements are on the way as capacitors improve exponentially.

DVD: Quantum dots--semiconductor crystals that are just a few nanometers wide--provide the needed precision for Blu-ray and HD DVD blue lasers.

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