Nanofabrication is the design and manufacture of devices with dimensions measured in nanometers. One nanometer is 10 -9 meter, or a millionth of a millimeter.
Nanofabrication is of interest to computer engineers because it opens the door to super-high-density microprocessor s and memory chip s. It has been suggested that each data bit could be stored in a single atom . Carrying this further, a single atom might even be able to represent a byte or word of data. Nanofabrication has also caught the attention of the medical industry, the military, and the aerospace industry.
There are several ways that nanofabrication might be done. One method involves scaling down integrated-circuit ( IC ) fabrication that has been standard since the 1970s, removing one atom at a time until the desired structure emerges. A more sophisticated hypothetical scheme involves the assembly of a chip atom-by-atom; this would resemble bricklaying. An extension of this is the notion that a chip might assemble itself atom-by-atom using programmable nanomachines. Finally, it has been suggested that a so-called biochip might be grown like a plant from a seed; the components would form by a process resembling cell division in living things.
Also see nanolithography , nanotechnology , and self-assembly .