May 01, 2007

Assessing molecular electronics, graphene plasmon chips and future computing

The Eetimes recently discussed another candidate technology for molecular electronics. Monomeric phthalocyanines could be organized into one dimensional wire-like ring-stacked or two dimensional sheet-like ring-fused phthalocyanines to make fully reversible quantum switch with multiple outputs.

CTT, the company that bought the rights to the technology, is only a 27 million market cap company.
Although they have been as high as 150 million. CTT has about 10 million in cash and has about 900K in profit per year. So they are like a largish angel or a small VC. They were stronger back in 2004 and 2005 and probably better at other times in the past.

I looked through the patents
It is some kind of electro-optical switch based on molecular ring chains.

There have been many high potential molecular electronics proposals and projects but none have been successfully implemented commercially.

This technology promises low energy petaflop performance and high memory density. This would be good but not if it does not take 15-20 years to get there. Since it looks like it can only deliver on its promise with a full blown transition to molecular computing that looks like something distant. (At least 10+ years and looks like it would take longer and not be as good as graphene chips.) I remember James Ellenbogen talks about molecular electronics and that the near term way to start getting results would be to create hybrids compatible with todays electronics.

James Ellenbogen. He was quite public with his molecular electronics work at Mitre and had spoken at the Foresight institute for Nanotechnology. (A recent publication of his.

James Tour and others had done work and formed a company, which I believe got folded into Nanosys Inc. I am unclear where Nanosys is at since they have gone very quiet news wise since an attempted IPO which was withdrawn.

Another molecular electronics candidate described at physorg

I am also still waiting for what should be this years release of NRAM by nantero and LSI Logic.

So there are and were players that were a bit bigger and had more early progress and momentum. Many seem to have run into obstacles and are bogged down.

My money would be on plasmon chips and graphene as the follow on to silicon. They would have similar infrastructure and would be easier technology for the big current players to transition towards.

Current methods are still improving. We will have teraflops in PCs by 2009-2010. Petaflops for PCs by 2020-2023 with relatively ordinary materials.

Something that is going displace current infrastructure would have to come along with 100 times the performance in any year and the ability to improve as fast or faster than Moore's Law to stay ahead. Or conquer a nitch and then expand out ala Flash memory.

So a technology that would want be the next big thing after silicon computers would need to deliver petaflops at PC prices by 2014 and double in performance every year and integrate easily with existing information technology infrastructure and processes. Another way to be successful would be for the new technology to be part of a larger explosion in production capacity so that it could easily build replacement infrastructure. This would be full-blown molecular nanotechnology.