MIT Builds The First CPU From Carbon Nanotubes

in science •  18 days ago 

Moore's law can stand for much longer. At least not for silicon-based transistors. But luckily, other materials can be used to create powerful microprocessors. Like carbon nanotubes.


This has been coming for some time now. After years of testing various designs and figuring how to deal with technical problems scientists and engineers at MIT finally developed an advanced microprocessor with transistors made from carbon nanotubes. These should be more powerful, faster and even more ecologically friendly compared to current silicon transistors.

For decades, the computer industry has been reliant on silicone-based transistors. And in 1965, Gordon Moore predicted that the number of transistors that can be placed on an integrated circuit for a price will double once per roughly two years. But, this can't go on forever. Experts agree that silicone transistors are very close to their limit. Thus, it is time for new ideas, technologies, and materials. Such as carbon nanotubes.

Carbon nanotube-based transistors could become the key building blocks for the next generation of computers. Scientists claim that these transistors have about a ten times higher effectiveness in comparison with silicon transistors while being faster. So far, the problem was that transistors made from carbon nanotubes had a lot of structural defects which made the technology unusable in real life.

Now, Max M. Shulaker and his colleagues from MIT developed new ways to produce carbon nanotube field-effect transistors. Their improvements dramatically reduced the number of defects in the transistors. The result of their work is a 16-bit microprocessor made from more than 14 thousand carbon nanotubes capable of the same things as commercial microprocessors are. A big plus is that this processor can be made using the same processes we use to make silicon-based microprocessors. This is a real breakthrough and could bring us a carbon nanotube-based processor in real life sooner than we think.


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