Carbon Nanotube Transistors Go Head-to-Head With Silicon

A Stanford team has made carbon nanotube transistors with record-setting current densities and stacked them to make 3-D circuits

4 min read
Carbon Nanotube Transistors Go Head-to-Head With Silicon
Image: Max Shulaker

HRoriginal-1421699315873.jpgLayers Upon Layers: A carbon nanotube transistor, memory cells, and a silicon transistor are built on different layers of a monolithic integrated circuit.Photo: Max Shulaker

In 2013, a team at Stanford reported that it had arranged arrays of tiny, atom-thick cylinders to create an entirely new machine: the world’s very first carbon nanotube computer. With a clock speed of just 1 kilohertz and fewer than 200 transistors, it didn’t stand a chance of competing with today’s silicon-based processors.

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The Ultimate Transistor Timeline

The transistor’s amazing evolution from point contacts to quantum tunnels

1 min read
A chart showing the timeline of when a transistor was invented and when it was commercialized.

Even as the initial sales receipts for the first transistors to hit the market were being tallied up in 1948, the next generation of transistors had already been invented (see “The First Transistor and How it Worked.”) Since then, engineers have reinvented the transistor over and over again, raiding condensed-matter physics for anything that might offer even the possibility of turning a small signal into a larger one.

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