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    The days of silicon chips are numbered.
    And soon they might be replaced by
    carbon nanotubes. After a long stretch
    of challenges, IBM researchers have
    fi nally achieved a milestone by creating
    an integrated circuit out a single carbon
    nanotube. Integrated chips (IC) are used
    to process and store information in a wide
    range of electronic devices from PCs to cell
    Initially, the problem was to create
    transistors used in ICs. Once that hurdle
    was crossed, Big Blue researchers faced the
    challenge of fi guring out a reliable way to
    assemble the transistors to form an IC.
    IBM researchers developed an 18-micron
    (less than the thickness of a plastic bag) long
    carbon nanotube with a 10-transistor ring
    oscillator, a device typically used for testing
    new manufacturing technologies. The
    success of the research also proved to be
    economical as only one nanotube was used
    instead of multiple tubes.
    The introduction of carbon nanotubes
    will have two advantages. Firstly, the data
    transfer rate will increase as electrical
    current moves more freely and faster
    through carbon nanotubes than silicon.
    Secondly, it is indeed very small—one
    carbon nanotube is 50,000 times thinner
    than a strand of hair, which translates to
    more data storage in less space and makes
    it more energy effi cient and speedier.
    It will take time for these chips to
    appear as IBM intends to spend more time
    on research.


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