Researchers at IBM have assembled 10,000 carbon nanotube transistors on a silicon chip. With silicon transistors approaching fundamental limits to continued miniaturization, theIBM work points toward a possible new way of continuing to produce smaller, faster, more efficient computers.
Earlier work by IBM showed that nanotube transistors could run chips three times faster than silicon transistors while using only a third as much power. And at just two nanometers in diameter, the nanotubes—carbon molecules resembling rolled-up chicken wire—are so small that chip makers could theoretically cram far more transistors on a chip than is possible with silicon technology. But controlling the nanotubes’ placement in arrays numerous enough to be useful—ultimately, billions of transistors—is a major research challenge.