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Self-Growing Material Opens Chip, Storage Advances

Soulskill posted about 6 years ago | from the that's-what-they-said-about-the-nanites dept.

Data Storage 30

coondoggie brings us this NetworkWorld article, which begins: "In the ever-growing desire to produce smaller, less costly, yet more powerful and faster computers and storage devices, researchers today said they are looking at a way to use self-growing fabrics that will let manufacturers build nano-sized high resolution semiconductors and arrays to answer that craving. Researchers at the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NSEC) at the University of Wisconsin — Madison have come up with a method that uses existing technology to combine the lithography techniques traditionally used to pattern microelectronics with novel self-assembling materials known as block copolymers, researchers said. When combined with a lithographically patterned surface, the block copolymers' long molecular chains spontaneously assemble into the designated arrangements."

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Uh... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24622859)

I for one welcome our new regenerating fabric overlords!

Re:Uh... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24623389)


Re:Uh... (0, Offtopic)

entrylevel (559061) | about 6 years ago | (#24623495)

Horrible, horrible freedom!

Imagine... (1)

ibanezist00 (1306467) | about 6 years ago | (#24622877)

A beowulf cluster of this stuff.

Nah, but serious question here -- how does using nanotech allow for "cheaper" storage devices? The way I see it, this will make them more expensive... or will the cost go down a bit soon in the future? I'm not the biggest expert on nanotech, so I'm curious...

Re:Imagine... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24623205)

how does using nanotech allow for "cheaper" storage devices?

You hit the nail on the head right there.

Your mother, a particularly cheap storage, is frequently opened with my dick as per the headline:

Self-Growing Material Opens Chip, Storage Advances

Only in most cases it's your Mother being opened with my self-growing material. She stores my genetic material inside her.

Grey goo (0, Redundant)

Toe, The (545098) | about 6 years ago | (#24622887)

...I mean... who can read this and not think about grey goo [] ?

Re:Grey goo (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24622927)

Self-assemble, not self-growing, so it's not like grey goo at all. The headline is a lie, in soviet russia head lines you, imagine a beowolf cluster of welcoming nano-overlords, yada yada.

Re:Grey goo (1)

Toe, The (545098) | about 6 years ago | (#24623485)

The headline is a lie

Right... by "this," I meant the /. article, not the source.
No edit button though. :/

No grey goo (5, Informative)

CorporateSuit (1319461) | about 6 years ago | (#24623063)

In this case, growing is referring to the opposite of "shrinking", that when the fabric is charged with electricity like a semiconductor would be, the molecules move from a deflated form to an expanded semiconductor to perform that role. Basically, they're using molecular chains that can perform more than one function, depending on its stimulus. When it says "Self-assembling", It's not talking about self-building, rather self-organizing. It will not build spare parts for your computer out of dust bunnies and bogons.

Re:Grey goo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24623321)

Anyone that is routinely capable of having sex?

With other people, that is.

With their consent.

cool new solid state storage (3, Funny)

FudRucker (866063) | about 6 years ago | (#24622963)

buy a new 80 gig solid state hardddrive or storage device and the longer you own it the bigger it grows in a year it has doubled capacity :)

wishful thinking...

Re:cool new solid state storage (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24623073)

It only increases in size if you store porn on it.

Even then, after a while, porn or not, it goes back to its original size.

SG-1 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24623091)

I, for one, welcome our new self-replicating Nanite overlord.

My computer will be able ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24623107)

to get cancer.

If a chip grows out of control, that would be like cancer in a human. Given Moore's law, computers will soon be able to contemplate their own mortality.

I've got your... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24623199)

I've got your self growing material. Know what I'm sayin'? Ask yer mom. She knows what I'm sayin'.

Re:I've got your... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24623323)

I've got your self growing material. Know what I'm sayin'? Ask yer mom. She knows what I'm sayin'.

I find it intriguing that my mother knows about your self growing material, considering she has Alzheimer's and lives in a nursing home. You're either a miracle worker or one sick puppy.

Resistance is futile. (1)

jack2000 (1178961) | about 6 years ago | (#24623209)

And it shall come to pass the age of BORG.

Mixed Metaphors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24623361)

You do not "answer" a "craving" you feed it.

Re:Mixed Metaphors (0)

4D6963 (933028) | about 6 years ago | (#24623457)

You do not "answer" a "craving" you feed it.

...with Brawndo. It's got what chip plants crave!

Re:Mixed Metaphors (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#24624045)

but WHY do they crave it?

Re:Mixed Metaphors (2, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 6 years ago | (#24624275)

It's got electrolytes!

Version 2 (1)

narcberry (1328009) | about 6 years ago | (#24623447)

The editor apparently didn't approve to original article, "Some scientists have an idea, although nothing has been demonstrated in a lab"

Other uses? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 6 years ago | (#24623599)

How about 'self-growing' clothes, homes, cars, etc? Why limit this just to nano tech?

Re:Other uses? (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | about 6 years ago | (#24624355)

Because they don't want something catastrophic to happen, like if someone develops self-growing humans.

Re:Other uses? (1)

Bat Country (829565) | about 6 years ago | (#24627205)

No problem at all! All that is necessary is to tattoo your entire body with an electrically conductive substrate then run a current through it while immersing you in toxic polymers, and Presto! You are wearing your new self-growing clothes.

...and you are a very interesting-looking corpse.

Gratuitous... (1)

thaddeusthudpucker (1082657) | about 6 years ago | (#24623663)

I for one welcome our new Self-growing comp overlords...

Some additional information... (5, Informative)

kebes (861706) | about 6 years ago | (#24623731)

The parts of TFA that talk about "self-assembly" are referring to the recent advances in using "block copolymers" to take a given lithographic pattern and "multiply" it into a high-density pattern.

For anyone with access, these two article's from today's issue of Science Magazine describe this research:
  • Ricardo Ruiz, Huiman Kang, François A. Detcheverry, Elizabeth Dobisz, Dan S. Kercher, Thomas R. Albrecht, Juan J. de Pablo, and Paul F. Nealey "Density Multiplication and Improved Lithography by Directed Block Copolymer Assembly", Science 15 August 2008: 936-939, DOI: 10.1126/science.1157626 []
  • Ion Bita, Joel K. W. Yang, Yeon Sik Jung, Caroline A. Ross, Edwin L. Thomas, and Karl K. Berggren "Graphoepitaxy of Self-Assembled Block Copolymers on Two-Dimensional Periodic Patterned Templates" Science 15 August 2008: 939-943. DOI: 10.1126/science.1159352 []

Block copolymers are polymers (long-chain molecules that make up, for example, plastics) that are designed in such a way that they spontaneously form well-defined nano-patterns when allowed to equilibrate. So for instance a block-copolymer cast as a coating might spontaneously form nano-sized cylinders inside it (where the 'cylinder' and 'matrix' are formed of two different components... the two 'blocks'). Depending on what kind of copolymer you synthesize, you can form nano-cylinders, nano-sheets, nano-spheres, and other shapes (check out this [] , and this [] for some examples of the morphologies one can obtain).

One of the problems with block-copolymers, however, is that although they form very well-defined shapes (of exceedingly small and regular size), that's useless if you can't put those nano-objects where you need them. That's where this new work in "Templated Self-Assembly" comes into play. Basically you create a conventional, big pattern using the tried-and-tested techniques used to make microchips (optical lithography, e-beam lithography, etc.). Then you use that as a template for the block-copolymer. It fills in the gaps in the big pattern with its much smaller-scale nano-objects... which are now placed at well-defined positions because of the larger-scale template. So basically you get "density multiplication" of whatever pattern you're able to make.

So if you can use normal lithography to make a pattern of 100 nm, the block-copolymer can fill in the gaps and give you a pattern with sizes of 20 nm. Also, this "self-assembly" process has a way of "healing" over defects, basically giving you a very well-defined pattern even if your original template wasn't perfect.

The patterns in question can be "chemical templates" (basically stripes of different chemicals on a surface), or "topographical templates" (physical channels), which is what the two above-mentioned papers deal with, respectively. (Other kinds of directed-assembly [] , like surface treatments, electric fields, or thermal fields, are also possible.)

The research is coming along very nicely, and Hitachi seems pretty serious about it. There's no guarantee that this will end up in real technology someday, but I'd say this is looking more and more viable as the research pours in.

(Disclosure: My research covers similar topics, and I've worked with some of the above-mentioned people on occasion.)

There was a movie about this (1)

LM741N (258038) | about 6 years ago | (#24623801)

I think it was titled "The Blob."

let it be said (0, Redundant)

ramul (1103299) | about 6 years ago | (#24624101)

I, for one, welcome our new self growing bedsheet overlords
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