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IBM shows off sub-10nm carbon nanotube transistors

Graphene the way to success
Tue Dec 06 2011, 16:56

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY GIANT IBM has shown off sub-10nm carbon nanotube transistors at the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting.

Big Blue's scientists took the opportunity to highlight how important carbon nanotubes are set to become by showing the first working sub-10nm transistors made with the material. Given that Intel has said that its tri-gate transistor technology will not scale beyond 14nm, it looks like IBM could be set to take the lead in the sub-10nm chipmaking stakes.

IBM was quick to point out the advantages of its carbon nanotube transistors, saying they already exhibit "excellent off-state behaviour in extremely scaled devices". Of course it is still early days for carbon nanotube transistors, but IBM said it expects chips to be using them within the next 10 years.

Not content with next generation transistors, IBM also showed off racetrack memory, a technology that has the benefits of both the high capacity of magnetic hard drives and the speed of solid-state memory. IBM's researchers talked about how to use CMOS fabrication techniques to print racetrack memory on 200mm wafers.

IBM demonstrated read/write functionality on an array of 256 in-plane horizontal racetrack devices. The firm claimed the demonstration lays the foundations for improved racktrack memory density and reliability.

IBM also showed off a CMOS process to print a graphene integrated circuit on a 200mm wafer. The researchers said the technique still needs "detailed technical stability" evaluated, but that the results are promising for the production of graphene circuits for use in high temperature environments.

Bringing silicon transistors below 10nm is expected to be a challenge that might not be easily solvable. Carbon nanotubes and graphene are often cited as two building blocks for sub-10nm process nodes and IBM seems to be the first major research organisation that's showing very early samples. µ


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