Carbon Nanotubes can help to keep Moore's Law going.
IBM Research (NYSE: IBM) surprised with a major breakthrough for chips.
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The use of carbon nanotubes in silicon transistors is likely enabling a leap in chip technology.
Scientists at IBM 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.
IBM solution overcomes a major problem 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, which is four technology generations away.
Silicon transistors have been made smaller year after year, but they are approaching a point of physical limitation. With Moore's Law running out of steam, shrinking the size of the transistor without compromising performance has been a big problem for engineers for decades.
Earlier this summer, IBM unveiled the first 7 nanometer node silicon test chip, pushing the limits of silicon technologies and ensuring further innovations for IBM Systems and the IT industry.
“These chip innovations are necessary to meet the emerging demands of cloud computing, Internet of Things and Big Data systems,” said Dario Gil, vice president of Science & Technology at IBM Research. “As silicon technology nears its physical limits, new materials, devices and circuit architectures must be ready to deliver the advanced technologies that will be required by the Cognitive Computing era. This breakthrough shows that computer chips made of carbon nanotubes will be able to power systems of the future sooner than the industry expected.”
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The results will be reported in the October 2 issue of Science.