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Significant changes have been made in recent years in the computer industry and the entire IT world. Many of these changes are based on three factors: the growing interest both in the business field and the efficient power consumption, the growth in mobile computing and the growth of performance necessary to computers’ devices in a rapid expansion of the multimedia environment.
In 1965 Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, predicted that the number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit, embedded in the chip of a microprocessor, would double approximately every 18 months.
Nanotechnology has contributed not only to respect Moore’s prediction, but it has also enriched the context in which that prediction could be outperformed.
This article aims at pointing out the important achievements of nanotechnology in the area of processors for computers.
The electronic components successfully obtained in the form of carbon nanotubes include: transistors, diodes, relays, etc.
Their history began with the first achievements in nanocomputers research, namely the production of single-electron tunneling transistors by Avenin and Likharev in 1985. The connection between the electronic components of a computer was done through integrated semiconductor nanofibers.
The chemical composition, the architecture and the design of the integrated circuits represented researchers’ subsequent concerns. Thus, the first advanced millimeter-scale microprocessors were those made of silicon.
Proving their supremacy in the electronic industry, silicon microprocessors became smaller and smaller, being essential elements of portable PCs. However, the smaller and smaller size affected silicon microprocessors reliability. That is why researchers looked for another material to remove such disadvantages as overheating, energy waste, and the sometimes faulty functioning.
A new material, carbon in the form of nanotube, became the center of scientists’ study in the electronic industry since early 1991, when it was synthesized by S. Iijima from NEC.
In this way, carbon nanotubes drew the attention of a team of researchers from San Diego, University in California. They developed a transistor made of only three carbon nanotubes in the form of Y junction. The technical brilliance resides in the fact that the metal gates which control the flow of electrons were made of iron-titan layers deposited on nanotubes during their synthesis.
Another team of researchers, who argue with solid arguments for the new technology of the transistors and nanoscale connectors based on carbon nanotubes, is that from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. According to a recently published article, carbon nanotubes feature a strong chemical, thermal and mechanical stability, being a good semiconductor in the presence of palladium ends meant to control electronic transition, which recommends these new materials for the implementation of integrated circuits on the nanometer scale.
IBM researchers are also optimistic about carbon nanotubes which will soon replace silicon in order to successfully minimize transistors. IBM state that they have succeeded in positioning carbon transistors, creating a model circuit on a mixed underlayer of hafnium oxide and silicon oxide.
Stanford University researchers led by professors Subhasish Mitra and H.-S. Philip Wong are convinced that carbon nanotubes represent the promissing succesors of silicon semiconductor materials in order to overpass the heat waste phenomenon from thin circuits.
Actually, in 2012, Intel manufactured the third generation of processors using silicon-based nanotechnology which proves that the limits of this material haven’t been reached yet.
Researchers’ imagination, inspiration and vision are basic elements which will support the subsequent evolution of integrated processors in a clean and safe environment for people, as Intel already sustains. Nanotechnology will bring nanocarbon computers in our hands soon, when a new era of semiconductors will be started.