IBM Makes Breakthrough In Carbon Nanotube Chip Development

 

  • Technique could soon replace silicon in computer chips
  • Carbon nanotubes
  • 10,000 working transistors

In man’s search for ways to make small things even smaller, IBM claims it has discovered a way to use the latest carbon nanotube technology in making smaller and faster processors.

 

  • Technique could soon replace silicon in computer chips
  • Carbon nanotubes
  • 10,000 working transistors

In man’s search for ways to make small things even smaller, IBM claims it has discovered a way to use the latest carbon nanotube technology in making smaller and faster processors.

Scientists at the T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. have created a chip that combines a silicon wafer with a nanotube overlay, resulting in a technology that is capable of 10,000 working transistors.

Silicon chips are known to last far longer and can double the amount of transistors on a chip.

"These devices outperformed any other switches made from any other material," says Dr. Supratik Guha, director of physical sciences. "We had suspected this all along, and our device physicists had simulated this, and they showed that we would see a factor of five or more performance improvement over conventional silicon devices."

IBM's latest breakthrough will push those capabilities even farther. Carbon nanotubes will allow chip makers to build smaller transistors and still be able to increase the speed at which those transistors can be turned on and off. 

The end is a long way off though as IBM isn't sure how much longer it will take to perfect the process. According to Dr. Guha, purer carbon nanotubes are needed and as of right now, the carbon nanotubes being used are metallic, and as a result don't make good semiconductors.

Looking forward, Dr. Guha believes IBM will be capable of making 99.99% pure carbon nanotubes possibly within the next decade.

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