Some USC researchers seem to have solved the biggest problem of carbon nanotubes, by discovering how to develop carbon nanotubes with specific and predictable atomic structures. This is a breakthrough on the path to the next generation of computers and supplies, which might even allow us to ditch silicon.
Currently, we could say that we are in the era of silicon. Researchers have been searching for a possible solution to this problem for years and many have experimented with carbon nanotubes as possible substitutes for silicon.
However, they were always in serious trouble. None of the existing nanotube manufacturing techniques allowed the development of nanotubes with certain and predictable atomic structures.
“Being able to control the atomic structure or chirality of nanotubes has basically been our dream; a dream in the field of nanotubes, ”said Chongwu Zhou, a professor in the Hsieh Ming Department of Electrical Engineering at USC's Viterbi School of Engineering and author of the study published August 23 in the journal Nano Letters.
So far scientists They could not make carbon nanotubes with specific attributes - for example, metallic instead of semiconductors; they only got batches of nanotubes mixed at random; and, later, they had to separate them by type. This sorting process also significantly shortens the nanotubes, making the material less practical for many applications.
For more than three years, the USC team has been working on the idea to use these short nanotubes already ordered as "seeds" to grow other longer nanotubes and, finally, they have succeeded.
"We are now working to scale the process," Zhou noted. "Our method can revolutionize the field and significantly boost real-life nanotube applications in many industries."
If until now we have lived in the era of silicon, the next could be the era of carbon nanotubes.
Definitely, this new technique will pave the way for the development of smaller, faster and more efficient computers from the energy point of view than the current ones based on silicon transistors.
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