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 Zeptoeverything - It's Mine
Kirt's Cogitations™ #250

RF Cafe University"Factoids," "Kirt's Cogitations," and "Tech Topics Smorgasbord" are all manifestations of my rantings on various subjects relevant (usually) to the overall RF Cafe theme. All may be accessed on these pages:

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Zeptoeverything - It's Mine

Let it hereby be known that I claim copyright and trademark rights for the following terms, in both their hyphenated and unhyphenated forms:

- zeptoscale®™

- zeptotechnology®™

- zeptoelectronics®™

- zeptotube®™

- zepto®™ (ala the Apple™ nano™)

There are others, of course, but I do not want to appear greedy and overreaching. You can claim the others. Why not "atto...?" It has been taken. Read on.

Having spent my teen years in the 1970s, I remember well the emergence of everything "micro." By the time I was savvy enough to jump on some word and phrase claims, Bill G. had already formed Microsoft, micrometer calipers already filled the toolboxes of machinists, and microbiology was already being taught in colleges. A few months after my 13th birthday, Intel secured its patent (#3,821,715) on the world's first commercial microprocessor (4004). Micro-something mot du jours appeared at every turn..

The world was fairly content with things micro for a couple decades, but Moore's Law forged ahead  and by the 1990s, we entered the nano era. Sub-micron (i.e., nano) IC geometries were becoming the norm as one-million-transistor processors were announced. Nanotechnology was the popular buzz phrase used for luring investors to underwrite thousands of newly formed companies that promised to revolutionize our civilization. They delivered on the promise.

Almost daily I post headlines of the latest breakthrough in nanothis and nanothat. Nanomachines are enabling surgery and drug delivery at the cellular level and allow accelerometers to be constructed capable of detecting gravitational forces between grains of sand. Carbon nanotubes have been fashioned into everything from high-capacity, rapid-charge battery cells to super-conducting substrates, to bullet-stopping body and equipment armor. Carbon nanotube cable is being studied as the breakthrough technology that could actually make the space elevator concept a reality. It is amazing to witness the speed at which the frontiers are advancing.

Originally, I was going to lay claim to attothis and attothat, but as you might imagine there has already been some push into the atto arena. A Google search on atto technology showed that someone beat me to the name. Atto electronics must also be out there already. I want rights to the entire realm of a numerical prefix. So, I moved on to the next step down. Nobody has zeptoanything yet... except now I do. Thanks to services like Archive.org's Wayback Machine™, there will be a permanent record of my legal right to the names preserved in perpetuity should the need for proof arise in a court case.

How small is zepto? Here is a list of some common numerical prefixes:

Prefix Symbol Name Multiplier
xenno x octillionth 10-27
yocto y septillionth 10-24
zepto z sextillionth 10-21
atto a quintillionth 10-18
femto f quadrillionth 10-15
pico p trillionth 10-12
nano n billionth 10-9
micro µ millionth 10-6
milli m thousandth 10-3

Of course everything is relative, so an attotexasecond is still a second, which is not a very impressive amount of time. A femtoparsec is about 31 meters in length. A zeptomole will get you 602 carbon 12 atoms. In contemporary terms, a picoUSBailoutPackage is around four bucks... don't spend it all in one place.

Seriously, though, let us consider a few practical examples. A DNA double helix is about 2 nanometers across, whereas the wavelength of visible light ranges from about 380 to 750 nm. That, of course, means you cannot see DNA without the help of x-ray imaging, which runs down into the 0.01 nanometer realm. The gate width for one of Intel's newest microprocessors is around 45 nanometers. Hydrogen has a Bohr radius of 53 picometers; lead's Bohr radius is 154 pm. Fingernails grow at a rate of around 100 micrometers per day.

RF Cafe: Moore's Law chartSome people say that the widespread acceptance and embracing of Gordon Moore's "Law," first introduced in 1965 (see original graph at right), has been a motivational force to help assure that it has been perpetuated for more than 40 years. Moore's Law predicts a doubling of densities every two years, which has equated to shrinking gate sizes.

Pn = P0 x 2n

Getting to the zeptometer gate width realm from the current nanometer gate width realm means a shrinkage factor of 1012.  Since log2 (1012) = 240, that means it will take 20 more years. Sure, it might be thought impossible today because of physics limitation, but science absolutes change all the time. I might still be around by then to capitalize on my zeptoeverything claim - not a bad retirement plan even at 70 years old.

By the way, for the sake of my posterity, since it will be long past my days on this Earth, I also claim subplanckscale®™, subplanckelectronics®™, subplancktube®™, and subplanck®™ as a generic prefix for everything. Yeah, yeah, I know you are thinking that the Planck length is theoretically the shortest possible length, but remember what I just said about absolutes. The only universal constant is change.

† There is a zepto.com already, but I'm camping on the domain name to snatch it when it expires.

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RF Cafe began life in 1996 as "RF Tools" in an AOL screen name web space totaling 2 MB. Its primary purpose was to provide me with ready access to commonly needed formulas and reference material while performing my work as an RF system and circuit design engineer. The World Wide Web (Internet) was largely an unknown entity at the time and bandwidth was a scarce commodity. Dial-up modems blazed along at 14.4 kbps while tying up your telephone line, and a nice lady's voice announced "You've Got Mail" when a new message arrived...

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