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Scientists Build Computer Using Carbon Nanotubes 104

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-i-play-quake-3-on-it-yet dept.
trendspotter writes "Future computers could run on lab-grown circuits that are thousands of times thinner than a human hair and operate on a fraction of the energy required to power today's silicon-based computer chips, extending 'Moore's Law' for years to come. Stanford engineers' very basic computer device using carbon nanotube technology validates carbon nanotubes as potential successors to today's silicon semiconductors. The achievement is reported today in an article on the cover of Nature magazine written by Max Shulaker and other doctoral students in electrical engineering. The research was led by Stanford professors Subhasish Mitra and H.S. Philip Wong."
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Scientists Build Computer Using Carbon Nanotubes

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  • by Macman408 (1308925) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @05:48PM (#44953663)

    1. "Lab-grown circuits that are thousands of times thinner than a human hair" is exactly what one could use to describe current silicon circuits. In fact, this study made transistors that are a micron across (which is, at best, hundreds of times thinner than a human hair), compared to current state-of-the-art silicon which is in the 22-28 nm range.
    2. "A fraction of the energy required" does not describe the current study, nor was it their intent, from what I understand about the researchers' claims.

    That's not to say that the research isn't very valuable; it looks like the level of integration they've managed is significantly better than what anybody else has achieved. But at the same time, there are lots of other ways that you could build a circuit that uses more area, costs more, takes longer to build, and is less power-efficient - this is just one more. All they've demonstrated is that you can hook together more than a handful of transistors successfully - but nowhere near the billions that they'd need for a commercial product.

    The real breakthroughs have yet to be made; making it cheaper, smaller, faster, more efficient, and easily manufacturable - all at the same time. Not until all those problems are solved will it even have a chance of replacing real silicon. Until then, this is yet another case of a university PR rep boasting about their institution's research with grand claims about what the future holds, while not really reflecting the true nature of the research at hand.

    (Admittedly, it is more boring when you adhere to reality.)

  • Re:Moore's Law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Wednesday September 25, 2013 @06:06PM (#44953833)

    It will have to end at some point, we can't build things smaller than the smallest physical unit in existence.

Some people claim that the UNIX learning curve is steep, but at least you only have to climb it once.