Carbon Nanotube Transistors Ideal for Space ElectronicsCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: September 26, 2012 06:27AM
With many electronics comes a warning about exposing the device to certain temperatures, both high and low. This is because the device may not be able to tolerate such harsh environments, but extreme temperatures are not the only concern in some places. Electronics meant to survive in space must withstand the ionizing radiation trapped in the planet's magnetic field, and other sources, which is what the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) is testing single walled carbon nanotube transistors for.
There are two different ways ionizing radiation can damage electronics. One way is creating a current pulse which will produce an error in signals. The other is a cumulative effect which causes the voltage needed to switch a transistor to change, and these changes can ultimately destroy the device. The nanotubes showed an amazing tolerance to these effects though. This is thanks to the nanotubes' small size and low density within a device.
If single walled carbon nanotube transistors were implemented in a piece of space electronics, the device would be considerably more efficient as the redundant systems and error-correcting circuitry would no longer be needed. As the nanotube transistors are developed to surpass modern transistors, even more benefits would be realized.