Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Case researchers grow carbon nanotubes in lab using faster, cheaper means


Basic building blocks of nanotech, carbon nanotubes will help carry the $850 billion electronics industry forward

A Case Western Reserve University engineer has created the "seeds" that can grow into today’s and tomorrow’s computer and phone chips.

In a development that could lead to smaller but more powerful computers and electronic communication devices, Massood Tabib-Azar, a professor of electrical engineering and computer science at Case, and engineering graduate student Yan Xie are growing carbon nanotube bridges in their lab that automatically attach themselves to other components without the help of an applied electrical current. Carbon nanotubes, discovered just 14 years ago, are stronger than steel and as flexible as plastic, conduct energy better than almost any material ever discovered and can be made from ordinary raw materials such as methane gas. In a relatively short time, carbon nanotubes – thin tubes of carbon atoms that have unusual characteristics because of their unique structure – have emerged as a "miracle material" that could revolutionize a number of industries, especially the small electronics industry.

What makes this discovery significant, Tabib-Azar says, is that, while there are some technical issues yet to be addressed, carbon nanotube bridges may open the door for manufacturers to utilize carbon nanotubes in building the tiniest computer and communication chips. Carbon nanotubes are being explored for many applications in nanoelectronics, nano-electromechanical systems, biosensors, nano-composites, advanced functional materials and meta-materials.

New and cheaper ways to grow carbon nanotubes can improve companies’ competitive edge, says Tabib-Azar. The researchers’ method is much less expensive and quicker to perform and results in a self-assembled network of carbon nanotube devices.

Tabib-Azar likens making today’s computer and cell phone chips to building a table by chopping down a tree and eliminating the unwanted portions until you end up with a flat surface with four legs. He and Xie discovered that you can grow building blocks of ultra large scale integrated circuits by growing self-assembled and self-welded carbon nanotubes much the same way you’d build that table. However, instead of chopping down the whole tree, all you have to do is create the "seeds" to grow what you need. In other words, Tabib-Azar and Xie have found the seeds to grow just the carbon nanotubes that are needed without wasting the entire "tree."

"Our approach is like growing a table using a ’table seed,’ said Tabib-Azar. "By growing the electronic circuits rather than chopping down and eliminating unwanted regions of different layers, our approach has the potential of producing very complex chips with superior computational properties and at the same time being less wasteful and more in tune with the way nature ’builds’ complex structures."

"Electronics is at the heart of global competition among superpowers," he continued. "And it’s important to note that the electronics world market is an $850 billion industry."

Tabib-Azar predicts that within five to 10 years the United States’ ability to double the number of switches per chip every 18 months will be diminished if American electronics companies don’t remain competitive.

In order to use carbon nanotubes in electronics where they may greatly benefit device performance and enable cramming in more devices per chip, the nanotubes should be connected to electrical contacts. Until now, the researchers say, to connect carbon nanotubes to electrical contacts, very high precision tools such as atomic force microscopes were used that made the resulting devices very expensive. Or, in the past, researchers have used electric forces to grow carbon nanotubes between two contacts. Both these techniques result in a very few devices and can’t be used for producing a large number of switches and devices in a cost-effective way.

"There are many research efforts in the U.S. and across the world to invent and discover the transistors and switches that will be more suitable to chips used in cell phones and computers beyond 2010-2015," said Tabib-Azar. "Carbon nanotubes have emerged as one of the candidates to carry the electronics industry forward."

Laura Massie | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Power and Electrical Engineering:

nachricht 'Super yeast' has the power to improve economics of biofuels
18.10.2016 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht Engineers reveal fabrication process for revolutionary transparent sensors
14.10.2016 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

All articles from Power and Electrical Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Innovative technique for shaping light could solve bandwidth crunch

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA's MAVEN mission observes ups and downs of water escape from Mars

20.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

More VideoLinks >>>