Feeds

IBM plots 'chip on a molecule'

Silicon on borrowed time?

Build a business case: developing custom apps

A functioning processor on a single molcule has been created by IBM scientists, offering the possibility of super-fast processing by tiny devices.

The molecule in question is a carbon nanotube. The team at at IBM’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center, New York, created a type of logic device called a ring oscillator. It consisted of 12 bi-metal field effect transistors laid along the 18 micrometre length of the nanotube.

New Scientist reports developer Joerg Appenzeller explaining: "This isn’t about making the circuits smaller, it’s about making them faster. Nanotubes fit the characteristics we need to advance high-end processing."

Chip designers have long known that they are pushing the limits of conventional silicon technology. The effort to keep up with Moore's Law - which predicts that the number of transistors on a chip will double every 18 months - has meant more and more transistors have been packed onto silicon by improving manufacturing techniques. However this constricts the pathways electrons are able to take and increases resitance in the circuit, limiting its speed.

According to the research paper, published in the journal Science, the chief reason behind the problem is a phenomenon known as plasmonic resonance. An electron’s path is hindered when it becomes coupled with vibrations in the surrounding silicon lattice structure.

But because the carbon nanotube is a single molecule this problem is avoided and resistance much reduced. The upshot is the possibility of circuits running much faster. Technologists reckon it could one day pave the way for affordable near-terahertz processing.

This latest experiment was a proof of the principle that nanotubes can be used as a basis for electronics. The technology is a long way off doing useful computation - the nanochip achieved a 52MHz crawl.

Right now nanotube production is at best a hit and miss operation. The technology would have to be bettered controlled for the chip giants to invest in trying to put nanotech in their products. According to NS one of the team reckons it could be done in five years if a huge investment was made, but believes in reality it will take much longer.®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.