ALTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 14, 2005--
For the first time, HP (NYSE:HPQ)
(Nasdaq:HPQ) has laid out in one place a comprehensive,
practical strategy for a computing future beyond traditional
The vision -- and the challenges
-- are captured in nearly two dozen papers published
today in a special nanotechnology edition of Applied
Physics A, the premier European journal of applied
"We believe we have a
practical, comprehensive strategy for moving computing
beyond silicon to the world of molecular-scale electronics,"
said Stan Williams, HP Senior Fellow and director,
Quantum Science Research (QSR), HP Labs. "We
have a three-pronged approach: fundamental scientific
research into the quantum effects that dominate the
nanometer scale, a new architecture that can tolerate
defects in molecular-sized circuit components and
cost-effective methods of fabrication."
Williams said that HP Labs
has discussed these ideas separately before, but the
special edition of Applied Physics A -- which includes
papers dealing with each of the three areas -- provides
an opportunity for a detailed look at HP's overall
In conjunction with the publication,
HP is pursuing the multi-tiered theme in an invitation-only
international nanotechnology symposium at HP Labs
on March 25. Michael Stuke, editor-in-chief, Applied
Physics A, will join 16 prominent scientists from
universities, national labs, scientific institutes
and companies around the world at the event.
"Our special issue presents
pioneering achievements by world-class experts in
areas ranging from basic nanoscience and ultraprecise
nanotechnology to breakthrough applications for nanoelectronics,
many of them backed by important new patents,"
said Stuke. "The combination of this publication
and the HP-hosted symposium offers researchers a unique
opportunity to gain a comprehensive view of the challenges
facing the future of nanotechnology."
There is a great deal of discussion
concerning the future of Moore's Law -- the rule formulated
by Intel founder Gordon Moore more than 40 years ago
that computing power essentially doubles every two
years -- and when the industry will hit economic or
fundamental physical limitations. At that point, a
new type of technology will be required to continue
improving basic computing capability well into this
"Computers of tomorrow
could be quite different from what they are today,"
said Williams. "When you can make a computing
appliance so tiny that it could fit across the width
of a hair, you could enable many, many different things
to become 'smart.' Computing could become as ubiquitous
as electricity -- it's just there, making things work.
The possibilities are limited only by human imagination."
The HP vision is based on its
patented crossbar architecture -- one set of parallel
nanowires running approximately perpendicular to another
set, sandwiching a thin layer of an electrically switchable
material. Every intersection of wires can then form
an electrical switch, which could be programmed to
configure the crossbar to perform various functions,
such as store a bit or perform a logic operation.
The crossbar architecture is
potentially easier and less expensive to manufacture
than conventional silicon technology, because it doesn't
require the same level of mechanical precision and
is well-suited to tolerate the inevitable defects
that are bound to occur in the fabrication process
at such tiny dimensions. One of the papers in the
publication describes a new approach to defect tolerance
that is particularly suited to the crossbar structure.
Williams said QSR is also looking
at fundamental science underlying computing at the
"At the nano level, quantum
mechanics takes over from classical physics -- electrons
behave more like waves than particles. We are studying
how we can use quantum properties to enable new functions
in a circuit," he said. Theoretical physicists
working in QSR have contributed articles on quantum
effects to the special edition.
Finally, the HP group is examining
how future devices could be made -- practically and
economically -- at the nanoscale. "There's a
great tradition of technology transfer at HP,"
said Williams. "We work only on those things
that we believe could ultimately be important to HP's
bottom line in the future."
To that end, QSR researchers
are examining the properties of various metals for
wires and materials for switches that could be used
in fabrication at the nano level. They are also proposing
ways in which the tiny devices could be linked to
The researchers are also looking
at a variety of fabrication processes, from nano-imprint
lithography -- a kind of production process akin to
a traditional printing press -- to chemical self-assembly
by growing silicon nanowires between electrodes. One
paper in the publication describes how silicon nanowires
are especially useful as sensors to detect specific
"Clearly, there's a lot
of work to do before nanoscale devices become reality,
and no one organization will ever be able to do it
alone," said Williams. "That's why we're
publishing in the scientific literature and holding
our own symposium. All of us in the scientific and
technical community have much to learn from one another."
Applied Physics, founded in
1973 by H.K.V. Lotsch, is an international journal
for the rapid publication of experimental and theoretical
investigations in applied research. Applied Physics
A publishes regular articles, rapid communications,
and invited papers about new results, focusing on
the condensed phase including nanostructured materials
and their applications. In addition to those about
surfaces and thin films, papers on advanced processing
and characterization techniques are of interest for
the readers of this journal. The high print quality
ensures excellent reproduction of photographs obtained
in fields such as scanning probe microscopy.
Applied Physics is published
by Springer, the world's second-largest publishing
company in the science, technology and medicine (STM)
sector. The international publishing house is part
of Springer Science+Business Media, one of the world's
leading suppliers of scientific and specialist literature.
HP is a technology solutions
provider to consumers, businesses and institutions
globally. The company's offerings span IT infrastructure,
global services, business and home computing, and
imaging and printing. For the four fiscal quarters
ended Jan. 31, 2005, HP revenue totaled $81.8 billion.
More information about HP is available at www.hp.com.
2005 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. The
information contained herein is subject to change
without notice. HP shall not be liable for technical
or editorial errors or omissions contained herein.
Dave Berman, 650-857-7277
HP Media Hotline, 866-266-7272