Hybrid Circuit with Carbon Nanotubes Developed
For decades silicon has been serving us well for our computers, but we are quickly approaching its limits. There are a number of potential materials that could replace silicon, but each always requires further development. Researchers at the University of Southern California have recently made a discovery concerning one replacement that could bring it a lot closer to succeeding silicon.
Carbon nanotubes have many properties that would be very useful in computer circuits, including being flexible and cheap to produce. They also have the major problem of not wanting to become n-type transistors. The Southern California researchers realized a way around this issue by just not trying to make n-type transistors of carbon nanotubes, but instead use a different material for that half. Complementing the p-type carbon nanotube thin film transistors (TFTs) are n-type TFTs made of indium, gallium, and zinc oxide. The resulting hybrid circuitry hides the disadvantages of the two material without sacrificing their advantages, such as being highly efficient and flexible.
Previous work on nanotube-based transistors managed to create circuits of 200 transistors, but with this hybrid approach, over 1000 transistors were used to build a scale ring oscillator. If this technology is able to make it out of the lab, we may see it used in OLEDs, digital circuits, RFID tags, sensors, wearable electronics, memory devices, and HUDs on dashboards.