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IBM - FEATURED ARTICLES

October 29, 2012

IBM Makes Huge Step Toward Commercial Fabrication of Carbon Nanotubes

By Rory Lidstone, TMCnet Contributing Writer

IBM (News - Alert) scientists have made significant advances in carbon nanotechnology, which will allow for commercial fabrication of much smaller, faster and more powerful computer chips.


Indeed, the company has succeeded in placing more than 10,000 working transistors made of carbon nano-sized tubes in a single chip using standard semiconductor processes. This unprecedented feat could allow carbon devices to outperform and ultimately replace standard silicon technology.

This could lead to further miniaturization of computing components, leading to improved computing – especially mobile computing where size and efficiency matter most.

Silicon microprocessor technology has been shrinking in size and improving in performance for decades, driving the information technology revolution. However, the tiny silicon transistors that carry information on a chip are approaching a point of physical limitation. The laws of physics will soon prohibit any gains in performance from further shrinking of silicon chips.

In other words, in a few years' time, the standard practice of scaling and shrinking processors will no longer yield substantial benefits in terms of lower power, lower costs and higher speed.

Carbon nanotubes, however, boast electrical properties more attractive than silicon, particularly for building nanoscale transistor devices mere tens of atoms across. As such, electrons in carbon transistors can move easier than in silicon-based devices, resulting in quicker data transport. Another advantage of carbon nanotubes is their shape, which is ideally suited for transistors at the atomic scale.

"Carbon nanotubes, borne out of chemistry, have largely been laboratory curiosities as far as microelectronic applications are concerned. We are attempting the first steps towards a technology by fabricating carbon nanotube transistors within a conventional wafer fabrication infrastructure," said Supratik Guha, director of Physical Sciences at IBM Research. "The motivation to work on carbon nanotube transistors is that at extremely small nanoscale dimensions, they outperform transistors made from any other material. However, there are challenges to address such as ultra high purity of the carbon nanotubes and deliberate placement at the nanoscale. We have been making significant strides in both."

IBM also recently unveiled Patient Care and Insights, analytics software that considers the specific health history of each individual patient.




Edited by Braden Becker



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