A Momentary Flow

Updating Worldviews one World at a time

With a new “cloning” system, scientists can create carbon nanotubes with predefined structures. The heart of the computer industry is known as “Silicon Valley” for a reason. Integrated circuit computer chips have been made from silicon since computing’s infancy in the 1960s. Now, carbon nanotubes may emerge as a contender to silicon’s throne. Scientists and industry experts have long speculated that carbon nanotube transistors would one day replace their silicon predecessors. In 1998, Delft University built the world’s first carbon nanotube transistors—carbon nanotubes have the potential to be far smaller, faster, and to consume less power than silicon transistors. A key reason carbon nanotubes are not in your computer right now is that they are difficult to manufacture in a predictable way. Scientists have had a difficult time controlling the manufacture of nanotubes to the correct diameter, type, and ultimately chirality, factors that control nanotubes’ electrical and mechanical properties. Think of chirality like this: if you took a sheet of notebook paper and rolled it straight up into a tube, it would have a certain chirality. If you rolled that same sheet up at an angle, it would have a different chirality. In this example, the notebook paper represents a sheet of latticed carbon atoms that are rolled-up to create a nanotube.

With a new “cloning” system, scientists can create carbon nanotubes with predefined structures. The heart of the computer industry is known as “Silicon Valley” for a reason. Integrated circuit computer chips have been made from silicon since computing’s infancy in the 1960s. Now, carbon nanotubes may emerge as a contender to silicon’s throne. Scientists and industry experts have long speculated that carbon nanotube transistors would one day replace their silicon predecessors. In 1998, Delft University built the world’s first carbon nanotube transistors—carbon nanotubes have the potential to be far smaller, faster, and to consume less power than silicon transistors. A key reason carbon nanotubes are not in your computer right now is that they are difficult to manufacture in a predictable way. Scientists have had a difficult time controlling the manufacture of nanotubes to the correct diameter, type, and ultimately chirality, factors that control nanotubes’ electrical and mechanical properties. Think of chirality like this: if you took a sheet of notebook paper and rolled it straight up into a tube, it would have a certain chirality. If you rolled that same sheet up at an angle, it would have a different chirality. In this example, the notebook paper represents a sheet of latticed carbon atoms that are rolled-up to create a nanotube.

Notes

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    Science bonner!
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