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Silicon in computer chips to go soon?

October 30, 2012 17:06 IST

ComputersResearchers, including an Indian origin scientist, have developed a new technique to mass produce dramatically smaller and faster carbon nanotubes that can replace silicon chips in computers.

A carbon 'chip' with more than ten thousand working transistors and made of nano-sized tubes could replace silicon in computer chips to create smaller, faster circuits.

"These carbon devices are poised to replace and outperform silicon technology allowing further miniaturisation of computing components and leading the way for future microelectronics," IBM researchers said.

Because of rapid innovation over four decades, silicon microprocessor technology has continually shrunk in size and improved in performance, thereby driving the information technology revolution, the Daily Mail reported.

However, their increasingly small dimensions, now reaching the nanoscale, have reached the limits of performance due to the nature of silicon and the laws of physics.

Experts believe that the future may be carbon nanotubes, as electrons in carbon transistors can move easier than in silicon-based devices allowing for quicker transport of data.

The nanotubes are also ideally shaped for transistors at the atomic scale, an advantage over silicon according to IBM's team.

"Carbon nanotubes, borne out of chemistry, have largely been laboratory curiosities as far as microelectronic applications are concerned," said Supratik Guha, Director of Physical Sciences at IBM Research.

"We are attempting the first steps towards a technology by fabricating carbon nanotube transistors within a conventional wafer fabrication infrastructure.

"The motivation to work on carbon nanotube transistors is that at extremely small nanoscale dimensions, they outperform transistors made from any other material," Guha said.

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