A proposed integrated circuit based on quantum-dot cellular automata (QCA) would function as a bit-serial adder. This circuit would serve as a prototype building block for demonstrating the feasibility of quantum-dots computing and for the further development of increasingly complex and increasingly capable quantum-dots computing circuits. QCA-based bit-serial adders would be especially useful in that they would enable the development of highly parallel and systolic processors for implementing fast Fourier, cosine, Hartley, and wavelet transforms.

The proposed circuit would complement the QCA-based circuits described in "Implementing Permutation Matrices by Use of Quantum Dots" (NPO-20801), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 25, No. 10 (October 2001), page 42, and the preceding article. Those articles described the limitations of very-large-scale integrated (VLSI) circuitry and the major potential advantage afforded by QCA. To recapitulate: In a VLSI circuit, signal paths that are required not to interact with each other must not cross in the same plane. In contrast, for reasons too complex to describe in the limited space available for this article, suitably designed and operated QCA-based signal paths that are required not to interact with each other can nevertheless be allowed to cross each other in the same plane without adverse effect. In principle, this characteristic could be exploited to design compact, coplanar, simple (relative to VLSI) QCA-based networks to implement complex, advanced interconnection schemes.

Figure 1. A Full Adder would be made of majority gates, inverters, and binary wires that would, in turn, be made of suitably arrayed quantum-dot cellular automata.
To enable a meaningful description of the proposed bit-serial adder, it is necessary to further recapitulate the description of a quantum-dot cellular automation from the first-mentioned prior article: A quantum-dot cellular automaton contains four quantum dots positioned at the corners of a square cell. The cell contains two extra mobile electrons that can tunnel (in the quantum-mechanical sense) between neighboring dots within the cell. The Coulomb repulsion between the two electrons tends to make them occupy antipodal dots in the cell. For an isolated cell, there are two energetically equivalent arrangements (denoted polarization states) of the extra electrons. The cell polarization is used to encode binary information. Because the polarization of a nonisolated cell depends on Coulomb-repulsion interactions with neighboring cells, universal logic gates and binary wires could be constructed, in principle, by arraying QCA of suitable design in suitable patterns.