White House Official Tips Off Subtle Change in Approach to Nanotech

Replacing one pipe dream for nanotech with another hardly progresses the discussion of funding its research

1 min read

Since the beginning of the US government getting behind nanotech as a focused program the expressed reason (explicitly or tacitly) for pursuing this course has primarily been that of not missing out on a whole new “industry” to provide new jobs and wealth.

It seems that the Obama White House has taken a different tack to the whole purpose of the government pouring money into nanotech.  Instead of not missing out on the next big thing for economic development, we get not missing out on the next big thing in alternative energies.

If you followed the links above, you now know that I don’t think much of the ideas that nanotechnology can be supported as a rising industry that will provide economic development for any one particular geographic region, and nor should it be held out as some sort of cure-all for making alternative energy economically competitive with oil.

By replacing one pipe dream for another, I’m not sure that the Obama administration is doing much to move the discussion of nanotech beyond the realm of hype, but then again what else are they supposed to say.

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Two Startups Are Bringing Fiber to the Processor

Avicena’s blue microLEDs are the dark horse in a race with Ayar Labs’ laser-based system

5 min read
Diffuse blue light shines from a patterned surface through a ring. A blue cable leads away from it.

Avicena’s microLED chiplets could one day link all the CPUs in a computer cluster together.


If a CPU in Seoul sends a byte of data to a processor in Prague, the information covers most of the distance as light, zipping along with no resistance. But put both those processors on the same motherboard, and they’ll need to communicate over energy-sapping copper, which slow the communication speeds possible within computers. Two Silicon Valley startups, Avicena and Ayar Labs, are doing something about that longstanding limit. If they succeed in their attempts to finally bring optical fiber all the way to the processor, it might not just accelerate computing—it might also remake it.

Both companies are developing fiber-connected chiplets, small chips meant to share a high-bandwidth connection with CPUs and other data-hungry silicon in a shared package. They are each ramping up production in 2023, though it may be a couple of years before we see a computer on the market with either product.

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