Network Software – Microdevices and Microdevice Networks – The Software of the Very Small

This is a chapter about very small things and the software that drives them. This includes very small things that when interconnected can become very large networks. In previous chapters we have discussed the evolving role that microelectrical mechanical systems are playing in cellular handset design and beyond that the role that nanoscale manufacturing may have in transforming material properties. The combination of silicon geometry scaling and microminiaturisation techniques together are transforming phone form factor and functionality.

There are, however, other devices that are acquiring new capabilities and shrinking both in size and the amount of energy they consume. These devices use manufacturing techniques at the scale of nanometres (one billionth of a metre) to build structures at atomic or molecular level that are combined in to devices that are either measured in micrometres (one millionth of a metre), or millimetres (one thousandth of a metre).

We review three classes of ‘microdevice’, ‘Memory Spots’ ‘motes’ (being developed in the US as a result of various ‘smart dust’ projects) and the Hitachi Mu chip (an ultraminiaturised RF ID device).

Two of these devices have failed to gain market traction for reasons that we need to analyse. All three device classes are, or were, intended to store information and/or collect information and/or provide identification. All of them are, ...

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