IBM says it has developed ultra-fast transistor


IBM says it has developed ultra-fast transistors from atoms of carbon.

IBM has announced researchers assembled the transistors from carbon nanotubes - long, tube-shaped carbon molecules that have been identified as one of a few promising substitutes for silicon.

Silicon, the main in ingredient in the semiconductors on which the computer industry depends, is expected to reach the end of its usefulness in a decade or so.

Mr Phaedon Avouris, IBM's manager of nanoscale science and one of the researchers who developed the transistor, said the announcement was significant because the nanotube devices allowed higher-speed electron flow than silicon transistors.

"I think we need another three years of research to see how much better we can do and to see if it's worth starting a development process," Mr Avouris said. "Unless we can make the nanotube devices better than silicon, it's not worth it".

To gain continual jumps in processing speed, silicon transistors and other electronic circuitry have already shrunk to the molecular level.

But the molecular structure of silicon, whose semiconducting properties lend transistors their switching ability, prevents it from being shaved much thinner.