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New and Emerging Technologies in Electronics

Molecular Devices in Use Today

The semiconductor switch, because it can be manufactured at very small scales, has become the fundamental device in all of modern electronics. The Pentium microchip, for example, contains 3.6 million such switching devices, which together perform the enormously complex functions available in the Pentium processor.

California Molecular Electronics' (CALMEC®) ChiropticeneTM Switch is a device that goes beyond the semiconductor switch in size reduction and cost. This switch is a single molecule that exhibits classical switching properties. Being only a molecule in size, it is hundreds of times smaller than even the smallest semiconductor switch.

Chiropticene molecules are switchable between two distinct states which are spatial mirror images of each other. These mirror images are electronically and optically distinct enabling sharp and stable switching properties. Mirror imagery is a property familiar to everyone because the human hands are mirror images of each other (i.e., the left hand seen in a mirror, looks just like the right hand seen straight on without a mirror).

Despite the fact that the two hands are alike, they are also distinct. A glove that fits the right hand doesn't fit the left, and vice versa. Being distinct but equal, the hands form a natural binary pair just as do a (1) and a (0). By using left- and righthanded signals, we can create a binary 'digital' code. Mirror image properties are also called "handedness" properties because of this relationship between the left and right hands. In chemistry, such properties are called "chiral" (pronounced kyral) properties after the Greek work Cheir, "hand". The Chiropticenes get their name from a combination of the word chiral, because they exhibit handedness, and the word optic, because they are optically switchable and optically readable.

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