Carbon nanotubes sit on top of features etched in silicon.
IBM Research

IBM prepares for end of process shrinks with carbon nanotube transistors

IBM buys off-the-shelf nanotubes, assembles them on a chip.

by John Timmer – Oct 28 2012, 2:00pm EDT

The shrinking size of features on modern processors is slowly approaching a limit where the wiring on chips will only be a few atoms across. As this point approaches, both making these features and controlling the flow of current through them becomes a serious challenge, one that bumps up against basic limits of materials.

During my visit to IBM’s Watson Research Center, it was clear that people in the company are already thinking about what to do when they run into these limits. For at least some of them, the answer would involve a radical departure from traditional chipmaking approaches, switching from traditional semiconductors to carbon nanotubes. And, while I was there, the team was preparing a paper (now released by Nature Nanotechnology) that would report some significant progress: a chip with 10,000 working transistors made from nanotubes, formed at a density that’s two orders of magnitude higher than any previously reported effort.

Read more: IBM prepares for end of process shrinks with carbon nanotube transistors | Ars Technica.

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