A team from Stanford University has built a basic computer using carbon nanotubes (CNTs). The CNT computer is an important scientific breakthrough because the semiconductor material could potentially lead to a new generation of electronic devices that run faster and use less energy than silicon chips, which could soon encounter physical limits.
The researchers put in place a process for fabricating CNT-based circuits, and built a simple but effective circuit that shows that computation can be done with CNTs. They developed a two-pronged approach for addressing how CNTs do not necessarily grow in neat parallel lines, and how a fraction can end up behaving like metallic wires that always conduct electricity. The imperfection-immune design technique for dealing with the inherent imperfections of CNTs included creating an algorithm to map out a circuit layout that is guaranteed to work no matter whether or where they might be askew.
"It's not just about the CNT computer," says Stanford professor Subhasish Mitra. "It's about a change in directions that shows you can build something real using nanotechnologies that move beyond silicon and its cousins."
From Stanford University
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