This is the Test Circuit:
A photograph of the ring oscillator used to test the performance of a single nanotube. Note the nanotube protuding from the circuit in the inset, upper right. The entire circuit is several times smaller than the thickness of a human hair. (Source: IBM)
IBM Corp. claims to have developed a device that incorporates an integrated circuit on a carbon nanotube. The technology could one day boost the speeds of next-generation chip products.
IBM has built a five-stage ring oscillator that comprises of 12 field-effect transistors (FET) side-by-side, along the length of an individual carbon nanotube, according to the journal Science, which is expected to be released on Friday (March 24).
And an important consideration is:
The device combines the best of carbon nanotubes and FETs. “Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) have been shown to exhibit excellent electrical properties, such as ballistic transport over several hundred nanometers at room temperature,” according to IBM.
All of which adds up to a huge step toward creating nano-scale processors. So “Moore’s Law” is safe!
There is a more comprehensive news report here from LinuxWorld
The research could have a large impact on the design of faster processors. Forty years after Intel cofounder Gordon Moore predicted that the number of transistors on a chip would double every two years, engineers are finding it hard to keep up with “Moore’s Law.”
One company, Nantero, is using nanotubes to create high-density nonvolatile memory. Other scientists are using the thermal conduction properties of nanotubes to draw heat away from processors. That work is happening at Fujitsu and NanoConduction.
“IBM’s work is different, because no one has really looked at using carbon nanotubes as a replacement for silicon,” Mamikunian said. “Now they have to scale that up to gigahertz and terahertz levels. They haven’t found a switching speed limit yet, so theoretically it shouldn’t be a problem.”
We’ll have fond memories of the good old days of 3.6 GHz processors and giant tower computer cases, oh how we’ll laugh and laugh.