With support from the
"This is greater than a promise," said
The achievement, which culminates years of effort by scientists around the world, is detailed today in the cover story (http://www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/goodbye?http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v501/n7468/full/nature12502.html) of the journal Nature. The research is led by
"People have been talking about a new era of carbon nanotube electronics moving beyond silicon," said Mitra, an electrical engineer and computer scientist at
"This paper details a most significant nano-enabled integrated system with nanotubes that can perform a general set of computer programs proposed to replace the current transistor technology," said Roco.
"They have designed what is called a 'Turing complete' computer," explained NSF Computer Information Science and Engineering program manager
"This is an important scientific and engineering breakthrough," Basu and Roco agree.
While engineers have looked hopefully on the potential of carbon nanotubes, also known as CNTs, to take electronics to a magnitude in performance beyond silicon, inherent imperfections have stood in the way of putting this promising material to practical use. CNTs do not necessarily grow in neat parallel lines, as chip-makers would like. Further, their conductivity is not uniform.
"Nanotubes are like spaghetti," explained Basu. "They are like a mound of entangled strings of materials with different conductivity. This new, 'imperfections immune design' makes this discovery truly exemplary and the most likely avenue for implementation."
The Nature paper describes a two-pronged approach that enabled these
"We have entered the third generation of nanotechnology," summarized Roco. "Building this prototype computer was only part of the achievement. Determining how to to use it, precisely identifying which tiny devices will be tested and found to run more efficiently with this incarnation--these remain to be seen. It will be exciting to watch for the next steps in the years ahead."
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