Today's processors are made largely out of silicon. And while processors have shrunk and become more efficient over the years, there's a limit to silicon technology. The latest Ivy Bridge processors are built using a 22nm manufacturing process, where transistor elements on the chip are a mere 22nm in size. And according to chip giant Intel, they believe they can bring this down to 5nm in the next few years, but beyond that, a new approach to chipmaking is required.
Thankfully, according to scientists at IBM's Watson Research Center, the team working on carbon nanotubes technology for chipmaking have made a significant breakthrough. Carbon nanotubes have been touted as a possible replacement to silicon as the two share similar properties. Most crucially, much like silicon, carbon nanotubes have superb on-again off-again electrical properties, which is required of transistors.
The latest breakthrough by the scientists at IBM allows them to arrange carbon nanotubes 100 times more densely than previous methods. This has enabled the team to be able to pattern an array of carbon nanotubes on a silicon wafer to build chips with more than 10,000 working transistors.
In light of this finding, Dr. Guha, Director of Physical Sciences at IBM Research stated that this process can be further refined and perfected, but that would require a more highly purified form of the carbon nanotube material.
Source: The New York Times