The latest entry on my “What if the Impossible Isn't?” list is this research breakthrough that takes transistors down to the molecular level, which Privya Ganapati describes in this December 24, 2009 article “First Functional Molecular Transistor Comes Alive” on wired.com. This technology is still many years away from any commercial scale or production, but these kinds of examples are what enable things like Moore's Law to continue long after many "experts" predict it has to come to an end.
“Nearly 62 years after researchers at Bell Labs demonstrated the first functional transistor, scientists say they have made another major breakthrough.
Researchers showed the first functional transistor made from a single molecule. The transistor, which has a benzene molecule attached to gold contacts, could behave just like a silicon transistor.
The molecule’s different energy states can be manipulated by varying the voltage applied to it through the contacts. And by manipulating the energy states, researchers were able to control the current passing through it.
The transistor, or semiconductor device that can amplify or switch electrical signals, was first developed to replace vacuum tubes. On Dec. 23, 1947, John Bardeen and Walter Brattain (who’d built on research by colleague William Shockley) showed a working transistor that was the culmination of more than a decade’s worth of effort.
Vacuum tubes were bulky and unreliable, and they consumed too much power. Silicon transistors addressed those problems and ushered in an era of compact, portable electronics.
Now molecular transistors could escalate the next step of developing nanomachines that would take just a few atoms to perform complex calculations, enabling massive parallel computers to be built.”
Speaking of Moore’s Law, I recall back in the early days of modems when the "experts" said that 9600 baud was the physical upper limit of speed. It was simply physically impossible to go any faster. Then they figured out compression techniques, then new transmissions, then optical, and so on. Now we can't even imagine how slow 9600 baud is.
Well, I can actually, because I still run at such speeds, sometimes even less, when I'm on my satellite phone data modem, which helps me remember such times, but you get my point. Even when we are so sure, when it is "just a fact", and there seems to be consensus amongst experts, scientists, etc. as to what is and is not possible, we humans have a wonderful history of discovering or inventing a new way of doing things which eliminates or obviates such barriers. This remains more true than ever and is happening at an exponentially increasing rate, which is the real difference to pay attention to.
Keep thinking about it. What if the impossible isn't?