Carbon nanotubes top silicon, especially when it comes to designing high-technology parts. Nanotubes could lead to a revolution in wireless communication design, extended battery life and an increase in devices’ speed.
All these improvements will be possible thanks to carbon nanotube transistors. However, there are many challenges ahead. So science has so far used transistors made of gallium arsenide and silicon. These parts are currently used in electronics and computer chips.
It was only recently that scientists from the University of Wisconsin have created nanotube transistors that are able to exceed silicon transistors. The advancement could change how microprocessors are produced.
Carbon nanotubes have so far been regarded as an interesting material, which could influence the future of transistors. Theoretically, these materials could outperform silicon transistors in speed. Transistors made of nanotubes would be five times faster than similar silicon transistors.
But engineering teams found it difficult to isolate carbon nanotubes. This would be essential for the mass production of electronic devices. Impurities in carbon nanotubes block the semiconducting properties of devices where used.
In the new experiment, researchers used polymers to purify carbon nanotubes. This is how they managed to isolate and purify nanotubes.
The transistor they built was nearly twice as fast as the silicon microprocessor. The breakthrough could lead to supercomputers, with high processing speed and long battery lives, and also highly performant smartphones.
Prof. Michael Arnold says the discovery started out as a dream of nanotechnology, for the past 20 years. But now it’s become a reality.
After decades of trials and failures in this field, nanotechnology is making another step forward.
The team of engineers reported their work in Science Advances. They are currently working on increasing the number of carbon nanotubes, to increase speed and demonstrate added value.
Funding for the experiments came from the National Science Foundation, the Air Force, and the US Army Research Office.
Carbon nanotubes are like straws made of carbon. They measure just one atom in girth. But they have amazing properties, like stretching while at the same time being more resistant than steel.
Carbon nanotubes are super-conductive so this makes them ideal for electronic applications, to increase the speed of processors and generally make computers more powerful.
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