In this chapter we intend to discuss the major trends in the evolution of microelectronics and its eventual transition to nanoelectronics. As it is well known, there is a continuous exponential tendency of microelectronics towards miniaturization summarized in G. Moore's empirical law. There is consensus that the corresponding decrease in size must end in 10 to 15 years due to physical as well as economical limits. It is thus necessary to prepare new solutions if one wants to pursue this trend further. One approach is to start from the ultimate limit, i.e. the atomic level, and design new materials and components which will replace the present day MOS (metal-oxide-semi- conductor) based technology. This is exactly the essence of nanotechnology, i.e. the ability to work at the molecular level, atom by atom or molecule by molecule, to create larger structures with fundamentally new molecular orga- nization. This should lead to novel materials with improved physical, chemi- cal and biological properties. These properties can be exploited in new devices. Such a goal would have been thought out of reach 15 years ago but the advent of new tools and new fabrication methods have boosted the field. We want to give here an overview of two different subfields of nano- electronics. The first part is centered on inorganic materials and describes two aspects: i) the physical and economical limits of the tendency to miniaturiza- tion; ii) some attempts which have already been made to realize devices with nanometric size. The second part deals with molecular electronics, where the basic quantities are now molecules, which might offer new and quite interest- ing possibilities for the future of nanoelectronicsComment: HAL : hal-00710039, version 2. This version corrects some aspect concerning the metal-insulator-metal without dot
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