March 23, 2006 3:02 PM PST

IBM researchers claim nanotube first

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IBM has created an integrated circuit with a carbon nanotube, a first that shows the feasibility of one day using the touted tubes for commercial devices, Big Blue said.

Researchers created a ring oscillator out of a nanotube. An oscillator switches between two voltage levels, which represent "true" and "false"; they are often used as test vehicles by chip designers. While the oscillator is slower than the equivalent of those made of silicon, the device and subsequent other nanotube circuits will allow IBM and others to more acutely study how nanotubes operate in certain circumstances.

IBM made nanotube transistors before, but an integrated circuit is more complicated. Transistors are essentially on-off switches, while an integrated circuit is a collection of transistors that work together to perform a function. The IBM scientists will now use the ring oscillator to test improved carbon nanotube transistors and circuits, and to gauge their performance in complete chip designs.

"Carbon nanotube transistors have the potential to outperform state-of-the-art silicon devices," T.C. Chen, vice president of Science & Technology at IBM Research, said in a statement. "However, scientists have focused so far on fabricating and optimizing individual carbon nanotube transistors. Now, we can evaluate the potential of carbon nanotube electronics in complete circuits--a critical step toward the integration of the technology with existing chipmaking techniques."

Carbon nanotubes, essentially rolled-up sheets of carbon, have extraordinary properties; they conduct electricity better than metals, are stronger than steel, and can emit light. Many believe that they could one day be used to make everything from smaller, faster computer chips to lighter airplanes.

So far, some manufacturers have sprinkled carbon nanotubes into bike parts and tennis rackets to cut weight and increase the strength of those products. Incorporating nanotubes into chips or devices for delivering medicines into the body could take years.

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7 comments

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ARE YOU PEOPLE NUTS???
I had a nanotube back in the 50s and we were doing all kinds of stuff with it. Who are these people?!?!?!?!?!
Posted by till8791 (17 comments )
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Are you crazy?
Ummm, nanotubes are just now being developed as a viable finatial option (thanks the the militaries huge strides in manifacturing). Soon they'll be in everything, but they simply don't have the infrastructure to mass market them yet, but that price is falling, and fast.
Posted by jzsaxpc (43 comments )
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You are a moron
The first carbon nanotube was discovered in 1991. After 15 years
of development, the cost to buy a single gram of nanotubes is in
the range of $300-$500.

In short, you have no clue what you are talking about, and have no
business posting a comment.
Posted by No_Man (77 comments )
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DID ANY OF YOU ACTUALLY READ?
Did any of you actually read the artical? IBM stated that they were the first to create a Carbon nanotube IC, not Nanotubes. Please, PLEASE, read something before you comment on it, it just makes you look dumber than you might be.
Posted by CaptDave86 (30 comments )
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