The ultimate in the manufacture of electronic components will arrive with the development of atomically precise manufacturing methods. Such methods are probably a decade or two away, but nanotechnology provides ever more imaginative ways to control the use of nanostructures on somewhat longer length scales toward achieving important technological goals. Here is another case where nanotech has been advanced by “innovative measurement techniques and new ways to position the molecules”. From ScienceDaily “Copolymers block out new approaches to microelectronics“:
…NIST researchers reported at the March Meeting of the American Physical Society how they have improved manipulation of so-called block copolymers—polymers made of a mixture of two or more different molecule building blocks that are tethered at a junction point—which can form arrays of tiny dots that could be used as the basis for electronic components that pack terabytes (1000 gigabytes) of memory in something as small as a pack of gum.
One of the challenges in polymer nanotechnology is how to control their self-assembly—a hard-to-control process for materials which require precision. An important recent NIST accomplishment has been in developing accurate measurements of thin film polymeric nanostructure in 3-D. (Ironically, while determining atomic structure is well-established, measuring the slightly larger internal structure of the polymers—on the order of 10 to 20 nanometers—is much harder.)