To put these dimensions in perspective, you must first know what nanometers are: a nanometer is 0.000000001 meters, or 10−9 m. To put this in perspective, a human hair is about 0.08 millimeters thick, a red blood cell is 5 microns, or a (non-computer) virus is on the order of 100 nanometers. Already on this scale we have that proteins measure 10 nanometers, or lipids measure about 5 nm. For us to understand each other, a 1 nm lithography I would be manufacturing transistors 100 times smaller than a virus.
What’s after 1nm lithography?
Manufacturers are currently having quite a few problems with 10nm fabrication nodes, although 7nm is already dominated by some manufacturers and 5 and 3nm are on the way. However, at this point we are already beginning to talk about decimals (2.5 nm) because it is increasingly complicated, and yet all the main manufacturers have in their plans not only reaching 1 nm but keep reducing the scale from there.
Reducing the size of the transistors is essential to be able to incorporate a greater number of them on the same surface, thus improving energy efficiency since performance is improved while maintaining or even reducing consumption. This creates other problems such as the density with which the heat is generated, but that is another matter: what we all have clear is that the objective is to continue reducing the scale of these transistors that are like neurons in the brain but in a CPU.
Obviously below 1 nm we will have to stop using nanometers as a scale (or use decimals, of course) and we will use the picometers, and although there is still a long way to go to get there, you must be aware of one thing: by the time 0.1 nm transistors are manufactured, we will already be talking about a atomic scale and not nanometric, which brings us to the next point in this article.
Molecular hardware, the future of lithography
When we think of a molecule we always have something extraordinarily small in mind, so small that it can only be seen with a very powerful microscope or highly specialized equipment. However, we must also bear in mind that a molecule does not always have an atomic scale, and we only have to see human DNA, something that we cannot see with the naked eye but that if it were fully stretched it could measure up to 3 meters in height. length.
However, we can effectively also put the opposite example, such as a water molecule (H2O) that has a diameter of approximately 0.275 nanometers, and this reference is precisely the one that has been working for a long time because a future lithography would literally be 0.3 nanometers. , a third of a 1 nm lithograph that we haven’t even gotten to yet. Can you imagine how many transistors would fit in the size of a normal processor?
The fact is that the development of lithographs will not be finished in 1 nm, and in fact they have been researching sub-nanometer manufacturing lithographs for some time. However, we are still far from that because, among other things, to achieve something like this you have to work at cryogenic temperatures and they have not yet found a way to make communication channels at the molecular level. They are in it and we repeat that we are still far away, but to get there, we will get there.