One-Atom-Tall Wires Could Extend Life of Moore’s Law

There may be a bit more room at the bottom, after all.
In 1959 physicist Richard Feynman issued a famed address at a meeting of the American Physical Society, a talk entitled "There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom." It was an invitation to push the boundaries of the miniature, a nanotech call to arms that many physicists heeded to great effect. But more than 50 years since his challenge (pdf), researchers have begun to run up against a few hurdles that could slow the progression toward ever-tinier devices. Someday soon those hurdles could threaten Moore’s Law, which describes the semiconductor industry’s steady, decades-long progression toward smaller, faster, cheaper circuits.
One issue is that as wires shrink to just nanometers in diameter, their resistivity tends to grow, curbing their usefulness as current carriers. Now a team of researchers has shown that it is possible to fabricate low-resistivity nanowires at the smallest scales imaginable by stringing together individual atoms in silicon.