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Encapsulating Nanotubes for Integrated Circuits

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 06:43AM

There are several technologies we want to use in certain applications, but several hurdles still exist preventing us from doing so. One example of this is carbon nanotubes being used in integrated circuits, because when exposed to air, the nanotubes quickly degrade. Researchers at Northwestern University though, have developed a solution, similar to that found for OLEDs that suffered a similar problem.

Carbon nanotubes have practically all of their atoms on their surface, so anything that interacts with the surface can dramatically affect their properties. Water and dust from the air are two things that can damage the nanotubes, resulting in them only surviving for hours instead of years or decades. To solve this problem the researchers developed a material to encapsulate the nanotubes. Organic LEDs have a similar problem and encapsulation layers had to be developed for them as well, which inspired this work, but the encapsulating material has been tailored for nanotubes.

To test their encapsulation method, the researchers built static random-access memory circuits (SRAM), which can make up 85% of modern some CPUs. The encapsulated nanotubes not only survived longer than their exposed counterparts, but also showed improved spatial uniformity. As the method for applying the encapsulation layer can be done easily and cheaply, we could see many interesting applications for nanotube-based circuits, such as being integrated into credit cards to store additional security information.

Source: Northwestern University

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