But first, a discussion of how solid-state chips are made in the first place. Basically, a round thin wafer is etched using [photolithography] with lots of tiny transistor circuits. The same chip is repeated over and over on a single wafer, and once the wafer is complete, it is chopped up into little individual squares. Wikipedia has a nice article on [semiconductor device fabrication], but I found this [YouTube video] more illuminating.
Up until now, the industry was able to get features down to 22 nanometers, and were hitting physical limitations to get down to anything smaller. The new development from IBM and Caltech is to use self-assembling DNA strands, folded into specific shapes using other strands that act as staples, and then using these folded structures as scaffolding to place in nanotubes. The result? Features as small as 6 nanometers. How cool is that? While NAND Flash Solid-State Drives are available today, this new technique can help develop newer, better technologies like Phase Change Memory (PCM).