Nanotech Breakthrough for your iPod: When can I buy one?

As noted previously on this blog, it seems there is a lot of pressure on chip makers to show some progress in the field of nanotechnology in order to keep that government funding flowing.

IBM just announced some interesting results from their research. This is great stuff and IBM has consistently done breakthrough research in nanotech going back to Gerd Binnig and his co-design with Heinrich Rohrer of the Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM).

But I think there is a problem with announcements such as these. When you start relating the story of this breakthrough in terms such as these: â''IBM's claims its atomic-scale demonstration promises to pack up to 1,000 times as much information on a hard disk than current technologies. Such hard disks could store 30,000 full-length movies on a device the size of an iPod.â'' People start wondering when they can get their iPods with this kind of capabilityâ'¿and so do the politicians, or anyone holding the purse strings.

You get a bunch of disappointed campers when you explain to them you could wait years for this capability to be available for your personal electronics. It just doesnâ''t make scintillating copy to mention, â''The R&D lifecycle is typically seven years from initiation of research to commercial product.â''

Make no mistake, what IBM has announced is great research and could lead to a new era in chip capabilities. But someone might mention how long this is going to take so we donâ''t have to hear the incessant whine from the backseat, â''Are we there yet?â''


Tech Talk

IEEE Spectrum’s general technology blog, featuring news, analysis, and opinions about engineering, consumer electronics, and technology and society, from the editorial staff and freelance contributors.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up for the Tech Alert newsletter and receive ground-breaking technology and science news from IEEE Spectrum every Thursday.