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HP Receives Another Key Molecular Electronics Patent

Invention Portfolio Continues to Grow
PALO ALTO, Calif., Nov. 12, 2002

Continuing its groundbreaking efforts in the emerging field of nanotechnology, HP (NYSE:HPQ) today announced it has received a key U.S. patent that helps consolidate and strengthen its growing portfolio of inventions in molecular electronics.

"We aim to do nothing less than reinvent the computer and this patent is the foundation of the effort," said R. Stanley Williams, HP Fellow and director, Quantum Science Research (QSR), HP Labs.

The patent, "Chemically Synthesized and Assembled Electronic Devices" (US 6,459,095), describes a simple, inexpensive and scalable chemical process that could be used in creating a variety of molecular-scale electronic devices -- including logic, memory, communications and signal routing devices -- using two crossed wires "sandwiching" electrically addressable molecules.

Although much of the work has been disclosed in three previous patents issued to HP and UCLA,(1) the current patent reflects HP's effort to create a complete, manufacturable molecular electronics technology.

The inventors are James R. Heath, currently UCLA chemistry professor and former director of the California NanoSystems Institute, whose group collaborates with HP Labs; Philip J. Kuekes, HP senior scientist and computer architect in QSR, and Williams. (Heath will become Elizabeth W. Gilloon Professor and professor of chemistry at the California Institute of Technology Jan. 1, 2003.)

The three also have just been named to the Scientific American 50, the noted magazine's first list recognizing scientific and technological contributions from the past year that provide a vision of a better future.

Their invention relates to a method for going beyond the theoretical material limits of conventional silicon processes -- expected to be reached in about a decade -- by creating electronic devices made by trapping electrically switchable molecules between crossed wires only a few atoms wide. A bit of logic or memory could be stored at each intersection of wires.

In conventional integrated circuit fabrication, complex patterns of wires and switches must be precisely built up a layer at a time. With the new invention, however, the wires need not cross at precise points or angles, and the function of the molecules can be defined after the device has been built.

"This is an approach that we believe will enable the industry to extend Moore's Law for another 50 years," said Heath. Moore's Law states that integrated circuits essentially double in power every 18 months. It is widely recognized in the semiconductor industry and named after Intel co-founder Gordon Moore.

"We believe that this basic architecture can be used to build nanoscale electro-chemical cells that are useful electronically in a variety of ways," Kuekes added.

"It's important to recognize that this is a whole new field and a lot of work remains to be done," Williams said. "That's why we're talking about it -- to encourage others to pursue research as well. The more people working on it, the stronger it will become, and that will benefit everybody."

About HP

HP is a leading global provider of products, technologies, solutions and services to consumers and businesses. The company's offerings span IT infrastructure, personal computing and access devices, global services and imaging and printing. HP completed its merger transaction involving Compaq Computer Corporation on May 3, 2002. More information about HP is available at http://www.hp.com.


(1) US 6,314,019, "Molecular-Wire Crossbar Interconnect (MWCI) for Signal Routing and Communications," Kuekes, Philip J. ; Williams, R. Stanley; Heath, James R.

US 6,128,214, "Molecular Wire Crossbar Memory," Kuekes, Williams, Heath.

US 6,256,767, "Demultiplexer for a Molecular Wire Crossbar," Kuekes, Williams.


About HP

HP Inc. creates technology that makes life better for everyone, everywhere. Through our portfolio of printers, PCs, mobile devices, solutions, and services, we engineer experiences that amaze. More information about HP Inc. is available at http://www.hp.com.