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IBM breakthrough may replace silicon transistors

October 2nd, 2015
A recent breakthrough by IBM Research could see carbon nanotubes replacing silicon transistors to power future computing technologies.

IBM scientists demonstrated a new way to shrink transistor contacts without reducing performance of carbon nanotube devices, opening a pathway to dramatically faster, smaller and more powerful computer chips beyond the capabilities of traditional semiconductors. The results will be reported in the October 2 issue of Science(DOI: 10.1126/science.aac8006).

IBM’s breakthrough overcomes a major hurdle that silicon and any semiconductor transistor technologies face when scaling down. In any transistor, two things scale: the channel and its two contacts. As devices become smaller, increased contact resistance for carbon nanotubes has hindered performance gains until now. These results could overcome contact resistance challenges all the way to the 1.8 nanometer node – four technology generations away.

Carbon nanotube chips could greatly improve the capabilities of high performance computers, enabling Big Data to be analyzed faster, increasing the power and battery life of mobiledevices and the Internet of Things, and allowing clouddata centers to deliver services more efficiently and economically.

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