Smallest-Ever Nanotube Transistors Outperform Silicon - Technology Review
The smallest carbon-nanotube transistor ever made, a nine-nanometer device, performs better than any other transistor has at this size.
For over a decade, researchers have promised that carbon nanotubes, with their superior electrical properties, would make for better transistors at ever-tinier sizes, but that claim hadn’t been tested in the lab at these extremes. Researchers at IBM who made the nanotube transistors say this is the first experimental evidence that any material is a viable potential replacement for silicon at a size smaller than 10 nanometers.
“The results really highlight the value of nanotubes in the most sophisticated type of transistors,” says John Rogers, professor of materials science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “They suggest, very clearly, that nanotubes have the potential for doing something truly competitive with, or complementary to, silicon.”
The shrinkage of silicon transistors over the past several decades has reduced the cost of electronics and led to more processing power with less energy consumption. But the downsizing of silicon electronics might hit a roadblock at around 10 nanometers, says Aaron Franklin, a researcher at the IBM Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York. “We are now reaching physical limits,” he says. As transistors are made smaller, it gets more difficult to control how electrons move through the silicon channel to turn the transistor on and off