Nanotubes Considered As An Alternative To Silicon Chips


Researchers have discovered nanotubes as an alternative to the silicon chips used by the computer industry to etch circuits that have been shrinking nonstop for the past years. The carbon nanotube technology is expected to take over silicon-based computer chips as soon as it reached its “fundamental physical limits.”

A report from The New York Times said that researchers are putting high hopes on carbon nanotubes as recent studies indicated the potential for the material to replace the silicon chips that have far extended their use for decades. In fact, the same article reported that researchers at Stanford have already demonstrated the functionality of nanotubes by a demonstration that includes fabricating a simple microelectronic circuit from the carbon nanotube technology.

This latest research from Stanford is the most convincing evidence of the role of nanotubes in the future. Although experts have been saying for years that this is a great alternative to silicon chips, there was no exact indication of the potential of the said technology until this research. In fact, the researchers expect to build an entire microprocessor from the material.

The End of the Silicon Chips Era

Experts from the computer industry have been saying for years that the silicon chips used to make computer circuits will soon shrink to just five nanometers, which means that silicon, a natural element, will no longer be a viable material. The end of the silicon chips era may be much sooner than we expect since devices using silicon-based circuit are starting to shrink in such a fast rate. There is seriously a need for a new technology that will support the heavy functions of most transistors.

Although there were fears that the death of the silicon era will put a stop to the scaling-down process of most devices, the Stanford research proved that the carbon nanotube technology may live up to its promise of a smaller but more powerful material than silicon chips.

Of course, other materials and technology are also being tested to make circuits in the future when silicon is no longer around. The main focus of the tests is to see if the materials can shrink into the proportions needed to make the small transistors being used in mobile devices today. In fact, Intel has examined several materials last year that it tried to fit on the surface of a chip.

H.S. Philip Wong, an electrical engineering professor at Stanford, clarified that the challenge for the materials is for them to be able to drop down into such a small scale that will make them a clear alternative to silicon chips.

Brighter Future for Computer Chips Industry

There are a lot of expectations for the carbon nanotube technology. Aside from the probability that it will be the alternative to silicon chips, experts have also said that this technology use less power and can switch faster than transistors made from silicon chips.

Aside from building microelectronics, it is also a hope that nanotubes can be utilized for rechargeable batteries, solar cells and even water filters.

Source: New York Times