IBM’s New Carbon Nanotube Chip
Nature Nanotechnology recently reported experiments by scientists at IBM that demonstrate various methods to achieve computer chips with better performance. Though carbon nanotubes were known to have better electronic properties compared to existing silicon-based devices, barriers in manipulation of these tubes have been a stumbling block in producing chips based on carbon nanotubes.
To overcome the challenge of Integration of several billion nanotubes into a single chip, researchers "double-dipped" the nanotube chip in two solutions and created a two-part epoxy, in which nanotubes were firmly bound to hafnium regions but not to the silicon on the chip. This gave rise to several nanotubes aligned in series with every square centimetre having a billion nanotubes.
The IBM research group has designed a massive transistor array, with each array having six nanotubes at a distance of 10 nm apart. This model is said to offer a 10-fold performance increase at one-third of the power consumption of existing devices. Although this is a great improvement from existing methods, the research team feels that a lot more work is needed to find out better ways to manipulate these nanotubes of various size and shapes.
Figure 1. IBM researcher Hongsik Park observes different solutions of carbon nanotubes. Image credit: IBM News Room