Nanotechnology turns 201 years old

Michael Kanellos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.
Michael Kanellos

Nanotechnology turns 201 years in 2006, according to Dan Hutcheson, CEO of VLSI Research, which analyzes the semiconductor hardware industry.

In 1805, Luigi Brugnatelli, a friend of Allisandro Volta, electroplated gold onto silver by experimenting with some of the electronic ideas coined by Volta. By the 1850s, electroplating was big business, he noted.

"So why could electroplating be the first nanotechnology? Plating is about ion's chasing electrons, which all occurs at less than 100nm," wrote Hutcheson. "What is nanotechnology? It's about making molecules working for you. It's less than 100nm and many include the concept of self-assembly. That's exactly what's happening with electroplating: self-assembly."

Plating, Hutcheson, points out is form of metal deposition, and therefore related to chemical vapor deposition and other processes used to insert metal and chemicals into chips. This week, Semicon West takes place in San Francisco. It's the premier event in North America for semiconductor equipment makers.

If you're in the sputtering business, it's the place to be.