"Helping the hunt for something to replace silicon transistors, Big Blue researchers have found a way to precisely place carbon nanotubes -- or rather, to encourage them to place themselves."
Carbon nanotubes are very small structures made of a lattice of carbon atoms rolled into a cylindrical shape, and a team of eight researchers have figured out a way to precisely place them on a computer chip, IBM announced today. That development allows them to arrange the nanotubes 100 times more densely than earlier methods, a key step in economical chipmaking, and IBM has built a chip with more than 10,000 carbon nanotube-based elements.
The new technique helps improve the nanotubes' chances in the hunt for alternatives once today's silicon transistor technology runs out of steam. Today's chips are made of tiny electrical switches called transistors, and carbon nanotubes are a potential substitute for the silicon channels that carry electrical current in those transistors.