Developing Carbon Nanotube Transistors

carbon_nanotubesx519Since the development of the transistor in 1947, the semiconductor industry has been working to rapidly and continuously improve performance and processing speeds of computer chips. Following Gordon Moore’s iconic law—stating that transistor density would double every two years—the semiconducting silicon chip has propelled technology through a wave of electronic transformation.

Next Electronics Revolution

But all good things must come to an end. The process of packing silicon transistors onto computer chips is reaching its physical limits. However, IBM researchers state that they’ve made a “major engineering breakthrough” that provides a viable alternative to silicon transistors.

The team from IBM proposes using carbon nanotube transistors as an alternative, which have promising electrical and thermal properties. In theory, carbon nanotube transistors could be much faster and more energy efficient than currently used transistors. Nanotube transistors have never been utilized in the past due to major manufacturing challenges that prevented their wide-spread commercialization. However, the IBM researchers are combating this issue by combining the nanotubes with metal contacts to deliver the electrical current.

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Yu_images_700x532A group from Texas A&M University, led by Dr. Choongho Yu, have developed a carbon nanotube sponge that could lower the cost in the effort to commercialize electrochemical cells.

The researchers’ aim was to develop a material to replace the expensive Pt-based catalyst currently used in many electrochemical systems. While other researchers have previously attempted the same feat, the results typically showed low stability levels.

This from Texas A&M University:

[The team has] developed a new low-cost and scalable method to synthesize 3-D sponge-like carbon nanotubes, which are self-standing and highly porous. After post-treatment, striking catalytic activity and stability are found to be comparable to or better than those of Pt-based catalysts in both acidic and basic environments.

Read the full article here.

The researchers believe that these results could allow the commercialization of current lab-based electrochemical cells due and potentially lower the price of commercial fuel cell stacks.