First time in history, researchers have constructed a transistor out of carbon nano-tubes that can run nearly twice as fast as its silicon counterparts. This is a big invention, because, for years, researchers have been trying to work out how to build the next generation of computers by carbon nano-tube elements, because their matchless properties could arrange the basis of quicker devices that waste way less power. Michael Arnold, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said one of the team members, "Building carbon nanotube transistors that are better than silicon transistors is a momentous milestone. This success has been a dream of nanotechnology for the last 20 years."
University of Wisconsin-Madison
First established back in 1991, carbon nano-tubes are mostly tiny carbon straws that measure just 1 atom thick. Imagine a small, cylindrical tube that is roughly 50,000 times smaller than the size of a human hair, and prepared from carbon atoms prepared in hexagonal arrays. That is what a carbon nano-tube wire would look like if you could see it at an atomic level.
Because they are too tiny, carbon nano-tubes can be filled by the millions onto wafers that can turn just like a silicon transistor, the electrical switches that together shape a computer’s CPU. Regardless of being extremely tiny, carbon nano-tubes have some matchless properties that make them an engineer’s nightmare. They are more than hundred times stronger than steel, but just one-sixth as heavy. They are flexible and stretchy like a cord of fabric, and can uphold their 1-atom-thick walls while increasing to 100s of microns long.
Washington-based carbon nanotubes manufacturer, NanoScience Instruments says, "To put this into perspective, if your hair had the similar aspect ratio, a lone component would be over 40 meters long."
And here is the best part: just like that other one-atom-thick surprise-material, carbon, graphene, nanotubes are one of the best conductive materials ever built. With ultra-strong links holding the carbon atoms together in a hexagonal shape, carbon nanotubes are capable of creating a miracle known as electron delocalization, which lets an electrical charge to move easily through it.
The arrangement of the carbon atoms as well allows heat to travel securely through the tube, which gives it about 15 times the current conductivity and one thousand times the current capability of copper while keeping a density that is just half that of aluminium. Because of all these remarkable properties, these semiconducting live wires could be our key to the quickly decreasing potential of silicon-based computers. Currently, all of our computers are working on silicon processors and memory chips, but we have nearly hit the boundary for how fast these can be built. If experts can work out how to switch silicon-based components with carbon nano-tube parts, in concept, we could knock and speeds up by five times directly. But there is the main problem with mass making carbon nano-tubes, they are extremely difficult to separate from all the minor metallic impurities that crawl in during the manufacturing procedure and these bits and parts can interrupt their semiconducting properties.
But Arnold and his group have finally worked out how to throw away almost all of these impurities. He says, "We have identified particular conditions in which you can throw away nearly all metallic nano tubes, where we have less than 0.01% metallic nano-tubes."
As Daniel Oberhaus describes for Motherboard, the method works by monitoring the self-assembling arrangements of carbon nano-tubes in a polymer solution, which not just allows the scientists to clean out impurities, but also to operate the accurate spacing of nano-tubes on a wafer.
He says, "The results are nano-tubes with less than 0.01% metallic impurities, combined with a transistor that was capable of achieving a current that was 1.9 times higher than the most state-of-the-art silicon transistors we are using today."
Simulations have proposed that in their purest shape, carbon nano-tube transistors should be capable of performing five times quicker or using five times less energy than silicon transistors because their revolutionary small dimensions allow them to very rapidly switch a current signal as it moves across it. This means longer lasting cell phone batteries, or much quicker wireless communications or processing speeds, but researchers have to actually figure out a working computer full of carbon nano-tube transistors before we can know for sure. Arnold's team has already achieved to scale their wafers up to 2.5 by 2.5 centimeters transistors (1 inch by 1 inch), so they are now working how to make the procedure effective enough for commercial production.
The study has been published in Science Advances.