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Selforganization in the human brain and self-assembly in materials for molecular electronics

Manfred Weick

Siemens AG, Corporate Technology Department
This is an abstract for a poster to be presented at the Fifth Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology.

There will be a link from here to the full article when it is available on the web.

Keywords: Human brain, Self-assembly, selforganization, information processing at the molecular level, molecular electronics


Molecular electronics will result in enormous gains in device density coupled with reduced power consumption per transistor equaivalent. An important technique in this context is self-assembly. One method for the self-assembly of small molecules to form supramolecular structures was developed, for instance, by Klaus Muellen and coworkers (VALI95). Another crucial element in the future development of circuits for the information processing at the nanoscale and molecular level is the role of the interconnects (ROYC96).

While conventional semiconductor technology follows the top-down principle of further miniaturisation coming from bulk material by improved lithography techniques, the molecular electronics approach is a bottom-up principle, starting from single molecular entities on a nanometer-scale to build information processing networks. That means, ultimate miniaturisation of circuits will be reached if single molecules or atoms can be assembled into active devices that can switch, store and retrieve information. But all these devices would require wires to link the devices, realized with techniques like self-assembly.

This paper gives an overview of what we can learn from the relations of selforganization in the human brain and self-assembly in materials for molecular electronics.


ANDR96 Andres, R. P., Datta, S., Dorogi, M., Gomez, J., Henderson, J. I., Janes, D. B., Kolagunta, V. R., Kubiak, C. P., Mahoney, W., Osifchin, R. F., Reifenberger, R., Samanta, M. P., and Titan, W.: Room temperature Coulomb blockade and Coulomb staircase from self-assembled nanostructures. Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology A 14, No. 3, 1996, 1178-1183.

BAR97 Bar, G., Rubin, S., Martin, T., Taylor, Th. N., Swanson, B. I., Zawodzinski, Th. A., Jr., Chow, J. T., and Ferraris, J. P.: The influence of contamination on compositional imaging of self-assembled monolayers by scanning force microscopy. Supramolecular Sciences 4, Nos. 1-2, 1997, 11-19.

BERG97 Berger, R., Delamarche, E., Lang, H. P., Gerber, Ch., Gimzweski, J. K., Meyer, E., and Guntherodt, H.-J.: Surface Stress in the Self-Assembly of Alkanethiols on Gold. Science 276, No. 5321, 1997, 2021-2024.

CLAR88 Clark, N. A., Douglas, K., K., Rothschild, K. J.: Self-Assembled Nanometer Lithographic Masks and Templates and Method for Parallel Fabrication of Nanometer Scale Multi-Device Structures. United States Patent, Patent No. 4.728.591, March 1, 1988.

CLAR97 Clark, S. L., Montague, M., and Hammond, P. T.: Selective deposition in multilayer assembly: SAMs as molecular templates. Supramolecular Science 4, Nos. 1-2, 1997, 141-146.

CONR76 Conrad, M.: Molecular Information Structures in the Brain. Journal of Neuroscience Research 2, No. 3, 1976, 233-245.

DELA97 Delamarche, E., Hoole, A. C. F., Michel, B., Wilkes, S., Despont, M., Welland, M. E., and Biebuyck, H.: Making Gold Nanostructures using Positive Lithography with Electron Beams and Self-Assembled Monolayers. Research Reports RZ 2919, IBM Research Division, Zurich Research Laboratory, Ruschlikon, Switzerland, 31. 3. 1997.

DELA94 Delamarche, E., Michel, B., Kang, H., and Gerber, Ch.: Thermal Stability of Self-Assembled Monolayers. Langmuir 10, No. 11, 1994, 4103-4108.

GOME96 Gomez-Lopez, M., Preece, J. A., and Stoddart, J. F.: The art and science of self-assembling molecular machines. Nanaotechnology 7, No. 3, 1996, 183-192.

GRAN97 Granstrom, M., Gerggren, M., Pede, D., Inganas, O., Andersson, M. R., Hjertberg, Th., and Wennerstrom, O.: Self organizing polymer films - a route to novel electronic devices based on conjugated polymers. Supramolecular Science 4, Nos. 1-2, 1997, 27-34.

HELL96 Heller, M. J.: Self-organizing molecular photonic structures based on chromophore- and flourophore-containing polynucleotides and methods of their use. United States Patent, Patent No. 5.532.129, July 2, 1996.

MERK89 Merkle, R. C.: Energy Limits to the Computational Power of the Human Brain. In: Foresight Update No. 6, 1989.

MERK94b Merkle, R. C.: The Molecular Repair of the Brain. Cryonics 15, Nos. 1&2, 1994.

OGIN96 Ogino, T., Hibino, H., and Prabhakaran, K.: Fabrication of nanostructures on silicon surfaces on wafer scale by controlling self-organization processes. Journal of Vacuum Science & Technology B 14, No. 6, 1996, 4134-4139.

PERR96 Perrier, J.-Y., Sipper, M., and Zahnd, J.: Toward a vible, self-reproducing universal computer. Physica D 97, No. 4, 1996, 335-352.

ROYC96 Roychowdhury, V. P., Janes, D. B., Bandyopadhyay, S., and Wang, X.: Collective Computational Activity in Self-Assembled Arrays of Quantum Dots: A Novel Neuromorphic Architecture for Nanoelectronics. IEEE Transactions on Electron Devices ED-43, No. 10, 1996, 1688-1699.

SAMP97 Sampath, S. and Lev, O.: 3D Organized Self-Assembled Monolayer Electrodes: A Novel Biosensor Configuration. Advanced Materials 9, No. 5, 1997, 410-413.

VALI95 Valiyaveettil, S., Scherf, U., Enkelmann, V., Klapper, M., and Mullen, K.: Design and Control of the Structure of Polymers and Molecular Aggregates in the Solid Lattice: Synthetic and Self-Assembly Approach. In: Mishra, M. K. (Ed.) et al.: Proceedings of the International Conference Adv. Polym. Macromolecular Engineering, pp. 243-253. New York: Plenum Press, 1995.

WIRT97 Wirth, M. J., Fairbank, R. W., and Fatunmbi, H. O.: Mixed Self-Assembled Monolayers in Chemical Separations. Science 275, No. 5296, 1997, 44-47.

XIA96 Xia, Y., Zhao, X.-M., and Whitesides, G. M.: Pattern transfer: Self-assembled monolayers as ultrathin resists. Microelectronic Engineering 32, Nos. 1-4, 1996, 255-268.

*Corresponding Address:
Manfred Weick, Siemens AG, Corporate Technology Department
Otto-Hahn-Ring 6, D-81739, Munich
telephone: +49 89 636-48028 fax: +49 89 636-45450
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