Electronics at Atomic Scale

For almost 50 years electronic industry has enjoyed an exponential growth, which is described by an empirical observation, known as Moore’s law: The number of devices produced on an integrated circuit (IC) has doubled approximately every two years. It means that every new generation of IC’s has smaller and smaller devices. Obviously, this process can not continue endlessly, at least not in the framework of exisiting CMOS technology. Nothing lasts forver in this world even the galaxies. However, when people say so, they usually mean that our grand grand grandchildren may have some trouble,such as global warming or lack of mineral fuel (gas and oil) which we burn in our oversized vehicles. Unfortunately, it is not the case for information technology. The current growth trend of electronic industry based on scaling of electronic devices to smaller and smaller sizes will last for another decade, but not much longer. The end of semiconductor roadmap is coming. And what comes next?

There are several routes are being explored to overcome the fast approaching slow down stage of information technology growth. One of them is based on the idea of replacing electrons by photons as information careers and current silicon based IC’s by three dimensional photonic cristals. Photons move much faster than electrons and three dimentional computing offers potential increase of information storage capacity and new paradigms of computing. Even current CMOS technology can be potentially expended from two dimentional ICs to three dimentional systems. Existing limits for progress in this direction are rather economical and technological than scientific. Stacking one IC on top of the other is a simple demostration that three dimentional computing is possible at least in principle.

When we say that current CMOS technology has its limitation based on scaling, it also means that future progress is limited by technological and economic factors, which are built in the the processing and functioning of the current IC’s. If we could make (working in real life not just in press releases!) atomic size electronic devices and pack them closely to each other at a similar (atomic) scale then all computer power which we have today could become available from a drop of water! There’s plenty of room at the bottom!. And what do we need to get access to this increadible computing power? - Maxwell’s demon :)

No less exciting opportunities are potentially available from paradigm of quantum computer. In addition to the small size, quantum device can potentially store more than one bit of information, which tremendously expends both storage capacity and information processing power. If current electronic devices can only answer on YES (one) and NO (zero) questions, quantum computers can handle even MAY BE operations, opening the routes to breaking any most sophisticated codes and even to understanding the woman logics!