Electrical Circuit on Nanotube
Tiny carbon tubes with walls only one atom thick show excellent electrical properties under laboratory conditions. Some scientists therefore see these so-called single-walled nanotubes as possible successors to silicon, which currently dominates microelectronics. Carbon should be more suitable than semiconductor metals, especially for the construction of structures in the range of a few nanometers. A team of researchers led by Jörg Appenzeller from the IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center has now put the first logic circuit on such a nanotube.
The construction is essentially a chimera of proven metal technology and new carbon base. The nanotube actually only takes on the role of a line in the circuit; the actual logical components are field-effect transistors, as are also used in current computer chips. In contrast to previous attempts, this time ten transistors, which are considered five logical inverters, sit on a single nanotube. Together they form a ring oscillator, the signals of which were recorded as a check for the functionality of the circuit.
The successful measurements prove that nanotubes are definitely suitable as a basis for electronic circuits on a nanoscale. However, there is still a long way to go to a first fully carbon-based chip.