Science: Mini-Mini Components

It once took half a dozen or more vacuum tubes, crammed into a bulky cabinet, to make an ordinary household radio. Today, postage-stamp-size electronic "chips," or integrated circuits, contain all the parts needed for far more complex electronic devices ranging from pocket calculators to missile guidance systems. But even these miracles of miniaturization may look gargantuan alongside the circuitry of the future. Scientists are now talking about turning individual molecules into electronic components.

To achieve this feat, Chemists Arieh Aviram of IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center and Mark A. Ratner of New York University propose making use of a...