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For First Time, Carbon Nanotube Transistors Outperform Silicon

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The researchers used their scalable, rapid deposition process to coat the surface of this substrate with aligned carbon nanotubes in less than five minutes.

University of WisconsinMadison materials engineers have created, for the first time, carbon nanotube transistors that outperform state-of-the-art silicon transistors.

Credit: Stephanie Precourt

For the first time, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) have created carbon nanotube transistors that offer performance superior to their silicon counterparts.

"This a critical advance toward exploiting carbon nanotubes in logic, high-speed communications, and other semiconductor electronics technologies," says UW-Madison professor Michael Arnold. He and professor Padma Gopalan's team devised transistors supporting current 1.9 times higher than silicon transistors.

The team says they used polymers to selectively isolate semiconducting nanotubes from metallic nanotubes, creating a solution of nanotubes of ultra-high purity. The nanotubes also must be properly aligned on a wafer to function as transistors, and the UW-Madison researchers say they did this with a process called "floating evaporative self-assembly."

The researchers say this achievement could clear a path for carbon nanotube transistors to supplant silicon transistors while continuing to deliver performance gains demanded by both the computer industry and consumers, with particular application to wireless communication technologies.

Extrapolations from single nanotube measurements suggest carbon nanotube transistors should be able to perform five times faster, or consume five times less energy, than silicon transistors.

From University of Wisconsin-Madison News
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