Thursday, October 15, 2015

IBM's Carbon Nanotube Breakthrough Takes Processors beyond Silicon


IBM Research – Created New System of Creating Contacts for Carbon Nanotube

IBM Research has created a new system of creating contacts for carbon nanotube which seems to open a `pathway to smaller, faster and a much powerful computer chips beyond the skills of traditional semiconductors’. It involves rolling nanoscale tubes from sheets of graphene that measures about one atom thick and gives new life to Moore’s Law.

The results were published in the journal Science which describes a new system of creating contacts for carbon nanotubes which are different to the prevailing system for carbon as well as silicon transistors and does not suffer from the issue of increased electrical resistance.

This is due to the contact which seems to be reduced in size. The increase in electrical resistance in a transistor would lead to performance reductions which till now resulted in smaller contacts of slow processors. In order to overcome this issue, IBM created a completely new metallurgical procedure which chemically binds metal atoms to the carbon atoms towards the end of the nanotubes.

IBM had stated that the `end-bonded contact scheme’ enabled the contacts to be contracted to below 10 nanometres devoid of deteriorating performance of the carbon nanotube devices. This would mean that we could be seeing carbon nanotube processors within the period.

Method - Carbon Nanotubes to Self-Assemble & Bind to Dedicated Molecules

In a Q&A which had been posted on the IBM Research blog, Nanoscale device as well as technology manager Shu-Jen Han had clarified what is needed to be done to utilise carbon nanotube transistors in a practical processor stating that they had developed a method for carbon nanotubes to self-assemble and bind to dedicated molecules on a wafer.

Then it is pushed to the density of the placed nanotubes, to around 10 nm apart and the reproducibility through the complete wafer’. The issue with the prevailing silicon based transistors is the tiny switches which tend to carry information on present computer chips and the material properties of silicone limits the degree to which transistors could be condensed in size.

BM tends to have built functional silicon germanium transistors at 7 nanometres. However it states that this pushed the limits of what could be done with the material. Intel on the other hand stated that it would not be utilising silicon beyond the 10 nm scale. The present CPUs of Intel are at 14nm while the next generation would be 10nm.

Assets of Carbon Nanotubes – Appropriate for Computing

The assets of carbon nanotubes tend to make them appropriate for use in computing, wherein they conduct electricity much faster than silicon, utilise less power and evaluating just one nanometre thick, seems to be much thinner than the prevailing silicon that makes them less liable to unsolicited electrostatic discharge. IBM had been investing profoundly in carbon nanotube study which has shown that carbon nanotube transistors could be utilised as outstanding switches at channel dimensions less than 10nm.

The company has clarified that it is equivalent to 10,000 times thinner than a strand of hair and less than half the size of present leading silicon technology’. Vice president of science and technology, Dario Gil, had written on IBM’s `A Smarter Planet blog, mentioning that the new technology could extend the life of Moore’s Law.

Created in the 1960s, Gordon Moore’s fundamental saying of modern technological development assumed that the number of transistors which could be put onto a computer chip would double every two years and with silicon reaching it limits, physically, the achievement of carbon nanotube research would be essential if the development seems to continue.

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