"We've demonstrated a memory element the size of a single molecule," said Reed, principal investigator on the paper. "This is the ultimate in size that one can achieve in microminaturization. The fabrication of the molecular memory was done using a method called 'self-assembly,' which has the potential to dramatically reduce cost."
The single molecule memory effect is more robust in storing information than conventional silicon memory, which is typically 'dynamic random access memories' (DRAM). The single molecule memory has a life approximately one million times longer than DRAM, which is not capable of holding stored charges for long.
"With the single molecule memory, all a general-purpose ultimate molecular computer now needs is a reversible single molecule switch," said Reed. "I anticipate we will see a demonstration of one very soon."
Papers presented at the International Electron Devices Meeting represent the world's leading applied research in electronics. As such, the papers give important clues about where electronics technology will be three-to-five years from now. The meeting runs from December 5-8, 1999.