Soon after 2020, IBM expects to release commercial computer transistors made from carbon nanotubes, replacing silicon chips as the standard for personal computing devices. After having completed the first nanotube transistor in 1998, the computer giant is the first company to commit to making nano-sized transistors available on commercial machines. “We previously worked on it as a sandbox type of thing”, said James Hannon, head of IBM’s molecular assemblies and devices group. Nanotubes, however, are the only technology that looks capable of keeping the advance of computer power from slowing down.
What’s the Big Idea?
To continue apace with the miniaturization of computer chips, transistors must have features as small as five nanometers by 2020 and nanotechnology offers a practical way to make both smaller and faster transistors. “Generations of chip-making technology are known by the size of the smallest structure they can write into a chip. The current best is 14 nanometers, and by 2020, in order to keep up with Moore’s Law, the industry will need to be down to five nanometers. This is the point IBM hopes nanotubes can step in.”