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Carbon Transistors

September 21, 2016

Engineers design powerful new transistors with carbon nanotubes.



Transistors made of carbon. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The element silicon is synonymous with electronics. But carbon nanotubes have theoretical advantages over silicon, if they can be made pure enough, and coaxed into aligning precisely. In the journal Science Advances, University of Wisconsin, Madison material scientist Michael Arnold and his colleagues describe new techniques to work with the finicky material.

MICHAEL ARNOLD (University of Wisconsin, Madison):

Because the nanotubes are more conductive and you can pass more current through them, you can make transistors that either can run faster, or you can make the same number of computations per second, but use less power to do so.


In fact, the transistor amplifier they demonstrated was nearly twice as fast as one made of silicon. Theoretically, carbon nanotube transistors could out-perform silicon by a factor of five, leading to smaller, faster, more efficient phones, computers and other devices. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.