Silicon Meets its Match - The Carbon Nanotube Transistors

It was predicted in 1990 that the single walled carbon nanotube (SWCNT) would be the material to outperform silicon. It is said that this SWCNT would push the world to be able to continue its Moore’s Law march towards towards smaller chip storage and dimensions. The use of graphene material has made this possible. This material has been used in the making of transistors for over the last twenty years. Now, the University of Wisconsin/Madison has boosted the SWCNTs by using grapheme and making a full transistor that has shown evidence in outperforming the current silicon transistors.

Nanobusiness IBM Carbon Nanotube Transistor

This achievement is noteworthy. To dream up a new nanotechnology involving carbon nanotube transistors over silicon transistors is a huge turning point. It is a critical advancement toward higher speed communications and furthering our electronic technologies. The research shows that the UW-Madison scientists were able to reach currents that were 1.9 times faster then that of the silicon transistors. The more current present - the quicker the gate in the next device of the circuit can be charged. The key to creating this faster current within the transistor was the process of the polymers. They needed to sort between the semiconducting SWCNTS and the metallic to create the highest purity of solution. The specific conditions involve the expelling of nearly all metallic nanotubes. The result is less than point one percent of the nanotube is metallic.

Nanobusiness The Carbon Nanotubes

The researchers have already explored potential problems with the nanotubes. They are continually tackling them. For example, the problem of placing and aligning the nanotubes upon a wafer. For this problem they developed a process known as floating evaporative self assembly. The technique involves the use of a hydrophobic substrate which is half way submerged into water then the SWCNTS are placed on its surface which intern removed the substrate vertically out of the water.

The UW-Madison research team is continuing their advancement of the carbon nanotubes. Their next goal is to replicate how the silicon transistors are able to be mass manufactured. Presently, the researchers have created a scale that allows for one inch by once inch wafers but their end game is to bring it to commercial scales. There has been a lot of talk around the potential of these carbon nanotubes and we are closer to seeing them on the market then many people understand. There has been decades of work put into finding the perfect science behind these material and there will be no stopping any time soon.