As a scientific pursuit, the search for a viable successor to silicon computer technology has garnered considerable curiosity in the last decade. The latest idea, and one of the most intriguing, is known as molecular computers, or moletronics, in which single molecules serve as switches, "quantum wires" a few atoms thick serve as wiring, and the hardware is synthesized chemically from the bottom up.
Description of Moletronics- an Invisible Technology
The central thesis of moletronics is that almost any chemically stable structure that is not specifically disallowed by the laws of physics can in fact be built. The possibility of building things atom by atom was first introduced by Richard Feynman in 1959.An "assembler", which is little more than a submicroscopic robotic arm can be built and be controlled. We can use it to secure and position compounds in order to direct the precise location at which chemical reactions occur.
This general approach allows the construction of large, atomically precise objects by initiating a sequence of controlled chemical reactions. In order for this to function as we wish, each assembler requires a process for receiving and executing the instruction set that will dictate its actions. In time, molecular machines might even have onboard, high speed RAM and slower but more permanent storage.
They would have communications capability and power supply. Moletronics is expected to touch almost every aspect of our lives, right down to the water we drink and the air we breathe. Experimental work has already resulted in the production of molecular tweezers, a carbon nanotube transistor, and logic gates. Theoretical work is progressing as well. James M. Tour of Rice University is working on the construction of a molecular computer.