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Thursday, 15 September 1983
Page: 960

Question No. 373

Mr Chynoweth asked the Minister for Science and Technology, upon notice, on 24 August 1983:

(1) What steps are being taken towards advancing Australian research on the biochip.

(2) Will this device make the silicon chip obsolete.

Mr Barry Jones —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

(1) As far as I can ascertain there is no current Australian research on the biochip; however a US biochip expert (Dr James McAlear) will be visiting Australia in September to speak at a two-day conference on the subject organised by the Florey Institute. Dr McAlear will also attend the National Technology Conference in September.

(2) The potential for silicon technology is far from fully realised and investment in the technology is high. Competing technologies at present in the development stage are based on Gallium Arsenide, Josephson Junction and Indium Phosphide. Further into the future is optical switching technology. While ultimately 'electronic' components may be reduced to the molecular level, and bio-logic may be the only feasible way to achieve this, it is still some time into the future.