In TR’s special issue on the future of computing (Beyond Silicon, TR May/June 2000), we documented efforts to replace silicon with computers based on quantum effects, DNA and organic molecules. Advances reported in each of these areas in August have brought the technologies closer to reality.
A collaboration led by IBM Research’s Isaac Chuang (one of the TR100) created an advanced quantum computer that was able to solve in one step a mathematical problem that requires repeated steps in a conventional computer.
Chemists at the University of California, Los Angeles made an on/off switch using an organic molecule and predict they will soon have working memory for the molecular computer they are building with researchers at Hewlett-Packard.
Scientists at Lucent Technologies’ Bell Labs and Oxford University reported in the journal Nature that they had built a minuscule motor out of DNA, work that could one day lead to the nanofabrication of functioning