The way to more energy efficient microprocessors

The way to more energy efficient microprocessors

Carbon nanotube transistors are a step closer to commercial reality, now that MIT researchers have demonstrated that the devices can be made swiftly in commercial facilities, with the same equipment used to manufacture the silicon-based transistors that are the backbone of today’s computing industry.

Carbon nanotube field-effect transistors or CNFETs are more energy-efficient than silicon field-effect transistors and could be used to build new types of three-dimensional microprocessors. But until now, they’ve existed mostly in an “artisanal” space, crafted in small quantities in academic laboratories.

In a study published June 1 in Nature Electronics, however, scientists show how CNFETs can be fabricated in large quantities on 200-millimeter wafers that are the industry standard in computer chip design. The CNFETs were created in a commercial silicon manufacturing facility and a semiconductor foundry in the United States.

After analyzing the deposition technique used to make the CNFETs, Max Shulaker, an MIT assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and his colleagues made some changes to speed up the fabrication process by more than 1,100 times compared to the conventional method, while also reducing the cost of production. The technique deposited carbon nanotubes edge to edge on the wafers, with 14,400 by 14,400 arrays CFNETs distributed across multiple wafers.

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Source: “Carbon nanotube transistors make the leap from lab to factory floor”, Becjy Ham, MIT News Office