Inside a new microprocessor, the transistors are manufactured with carbon nanotubes rather than silicon.
The original chip has not yet been finalized. It's bigger and not as fast as they are Appliances silicon, in circulation. Researchers are aiming for the new carbon nanotube chips to lead to a new generation of faster and more efficient devices.
This chip is a "very important milestone in its development technology ”, said a scientist from the University of Illinois.
The basic element of a transistor is a semiconductor component, traditionally made of silicon, which can act as either an electrical conductor or an insulator. Silicon transistors have greatly helped improve it computing. However, at this moment we cannot expect anything better. Silicon transistors cannot be made smaller or more efficient than they already are.
Carbon nanotube processors can work three times faster by processors silicon, using one third of the energy consumed by silicon processors.
One problem is that when a network of carbon nanotubes is deposited on a computer chip wafer, the tubes tend to stack together in pieces, preventing the transistor from functioning. The researchers they took care to solve this problem. They scattered nanotubes on a chip and then used vibrations to shake off unwanted bunches.
Another problem was that each batch of carbon nanotubes contained about 0,01% metallic nanotubes. The metal can disrupt the transistor function.
Researchers have been trying to find out how big the effect of the metallic element is on a transistor with different functions. They found that some transistors were more affected than others. So they made sure to plan carefully their microprocessor circuits to avoid the transistor elements most affected by the metal nanotubes.
With over an 14.000 carbon nanotube transistor, the microprocessor ran a simple program to write the message "Hello world!"
The new microprocessor is not yet ready to take the place of silicon microprocessors. It's not that sophisticated yet. However, with more work and research it will be able to help in a number of areas.