Sarkissian: What we see now is a convergence of disciplines. Today, about 40 to 55 percent of our business is with electronics companies; materials research is about 50 percent; only 10 percent is nanobiology. But we think each of the three will account for about one-third of our business eventually. Nanobiology has the potential to become the biggest share, but we want to make sure we do not get ahead of our headlights. We have to match our market expansion opportunities with good timing.
Semiconductors were born of a convergence of electronics with physics. Since then, the convergence has encompassed chemistry; consequently, transistor measurements have become more critical. We've had to see these tiny structures in order to understand their intricate behaviors.
When you look at nanotechnology, the same thing is happening: All the disciplines are converging on a need to understand what is happening at the atomic scale. We need to achieve a level of intelligence in our creations that rivals the native intelligence we see in biological systems. As engineers, we put the intelligence into the computer, but in the nanozone we will have to harvest the intelligence that is already there, so we can do bottom-up construction that enables these incredibly tiny structures to self-assemble.
In my long career, I have looked at things from the physics perspective, from the circuit design perspective, from the market perspective, from the user-of-chips perspective and from the perspective of the systems business. And to a degree, it's always the same: There is a long learning curve at the beginning, before something takes off. Nanotechnology is still on the beginning of the learning curve, and the only way we can understand what we need to learn about the nanozone is with nanoscale tools. That's what FEI provides.