What is the â¿¿nanotechnologyâ¿¿ chip makers are supposed to be pursuing?

In catching up with my nanotechnology news, I saw this story posted at Investor''s Business Daily at the beginning of the month.

It all seemed pretty alarming: government funding for nanotech is going to stop if chipmakers don''t start coming up with some nanotechnology breakthroughs.

I kept on reading to find out what exactly they might be talking about when they said ''nanotech chip breakthrough'' or ''apply nanotech to chip designs'''yeah, you guessed it, I was never enlightened.

I am fairly nave, but I guess I figured that chip makers were always going to run the full lifecycle of their billion-dollar fabs before completely changing chip manufacturing and making their huge investments obsolete. On second thought, maybe I''m not so nave but some others are.

I am not an ''investor'' so I guess I am not as savvy as the typical IBD reader, but wouldn''t anyone looking at how nanotech was going to work itself into the chip industry have understood this fundamental idea?

I also have to admit that I was a little stunned to see that others didn''t think nanotech was already being applied to chip manufacturing. I mean current chips employ 90-nanometer circuits, and IBM last year demonstrated that they can make them with dimensions of 29.9 nanometers. Doesn''t that fall under the oft-quoted 100-nm threshold?

Plus earlier this year, IBM scientists were able to apply nanotech self-assembly to mainstream chip manufacturing.

If nanotechnology is not making a big enough impact on chip manufacturing to make sure the politicos keep the research dollars coming, then the fault may not be in nanotech research, but fundamental capitalism'no one is going to start making a new product that requires new factories until they have completely used their old factories. Seems plain to me.

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