Nanotechnology and IBM

  04/27/2001 4:18:24 AM MDT Albuquerque, Nm
  By Dustin D. Brand; Owner AMO

IBM just gave Moores law more with carbon nanotubes.
  I breifly touched on Nanotechnology a few days ago in my "Concrescence, Many waves become one" article. I havn't been reporting on the impact of Nanotechnology enough, but in simple terms it's out of this world.

  IBM just announced, after nearly 5 years in development (along with many other of their pet projects I will report on) that they have created the first array of carbon Nanotube transistors.

  nanˇoˇtechˇnolˇoˇgy (nn-tk-nl-j) n.
  The science and technology of building electronic circuits and devices from single atoms and molecules.

  Nanotechnology has been a popular term recently, but has been since the term was coined by K. Eric Drexler in his book "Engines of Creation". It has been a popular term used by hackers and computer scientists such as myself since.

  The problem with current computers is simply silicon. Silicon has barriers, not only in it's speed, but in it's ability to function past the limit of size. With size, silicon can't be used, even with the latest ultraviolet lithography, past a certain size because it just can't function there without error. This is where carbon Nanotubes come in. Carbon nanotubes have been talked about for years, and because of their strength could even be used for miles long cables supporting an "elevator" to space. In this application, IBM is using carbon nanotubes to replace the need for silicon in computer chips entirely.

  Technologically, Silicon will reach it's limits in no less than 7 years, though many say 10-20. 2005-2007 should be the defining time period for Nanotechnology, with 2007 seeing a proliferation of uses from Medicine to Construction.

  Carbon nanotubes are tiny cylinders of carbon atoms measuring 10 atoms across and are 500 times smaller than current silicon-based transistors and 1,000 times stronger than steel.

  This breakthrough achieved by IBM scientists bypasses the tedious process of having to manipulate nanotubes one at a time, or separate them from the more useful electrical properties from bundles of nanotubes.

  The electrical properties of carbon nanotubes are either metallic or semiconducting. In the past the problem scientists had in using them as transistors was that all synthetic methods of production yield a mix of metallic nanotubes that would stick together, rendering them unusable, an IBM spokesperson explained.

  IBM researchers overcame this problem with a "constructive destruction" technique that allows them to produce only semiconducting nanotubes with the electrical properties necessary to build chips, the IBM spokesperson said.

  Expect to see and hear a lot more about Nanotechnology in the near and distant future, not only from me, but also from everyone else.

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