A Carbon Nanotube Microprocessor Mature Enough to Say Hello

Three new breakthroughs make commercial nanotube processors possible

4 min read
The first fully-programmable 16-bit carbon nanotube microprocessor
Photo: Max Shulaker, Gage Hills and Christian Lau/MIT

Engineers at MIT and Analog Devices have created the first fully-programmable 16-bit carbon nanotube microprocessor. It’s the most complex integration of carbon nanotube-based CMOS logic so far, with nearly 15,000 transistors, and it was done using technologies that have already been proven to work in a commercial chip-manufacturing facility. The processor, called RV16X-NANO, is a milestone in the development of beyond-silicon technologies, its inventors say.

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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.
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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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