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Intel researching "carbon nanotubes" for chip design

Cyrus Farivar

While Moore's Law has held up pretty well over the last 40 years, it may not be able to stay true forever. It turns out that as the components inside semiconductors get smaller and smaller, electrical resistance goes up, thereby reducing performance; experts say that eventually there will be a breaking point for "copper interconnects," reaching the point where Moore's Law falls apart. Scientists have been well aware of this roadblock, and have invested heavily in everything from quantum computing to optical processors. Intel is also working on a solution for this electrical engineering problem by attempting to determine whether these semiconductor interconnects can be replaced by carbon nanotubes. The ubiquitously researched microscopic tubes can conduct electricity far better than metals, due to their "ballistic conductivity," a property where no electrons are dispersed or blocked. But, the problem with carbon nanotubes, as CNET reports, is that they're really tough to mass produce; once created, some act as great semiconductors, while others don't. So now, Intel has to figure out how to get carbon nanotubes to act more uniformly, or to separate the bad ones from the good. Thankfully, consumers won't have to worry about this problem for about another decade, which is why Intel has brainiacs working on a solution as we speak.

[Via Slashdot]

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