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Carbon nanotubes look to step in and pick up where copper trails off.

The scientists at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, located in Troy, New York, have been busy playing with carbon nanotubes (CNT) for the past few years. Their research has brought us the possibility of paper batteries, remote-controlled disease killing bombs, and the blackest material in the world.

Saroj Nayak, associate professor at Rensselaer's Department of Physics, Applied Physics and Astronomy, recently led a team on a research project to compare the conductive properties of copper nanowires with that of carbon nanotube bundles. The conclusion probably won't be much of a shock: CNT bundles came out on top.

Rather than comparing the empirical data between the two subjects, Nayak's team used the world's fastest university based supercomputer, Rensselaer's Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations, to study their quantum mechanical properties. While empirical measurements are fine for research at a normal scale, the interaction of molecules, atoms, and some of their building blocks are more accurately measured below the macro scale using quantum mechanical observations.

The team's ultimate goal was to learn which material would be better for microchip interconnects. Copper interconnects are quickly coming to a choke point as chip cores continue their downward spiral. The current 45nm technology is not predicted to be the final blow, thanks to things like high-k metal interconnect gates. Some research suggests cores built on 15nm technology are more than feasible.

However, replacing the copper that is currently used for interconnects with a more efficient material would be a boon to chip makers and designers, possibly allowing them to even further shrink the process.

Though CNT bundles look to be a promising new material for microchips, there are still some ramifications to be dealt with before mass production could start. An economical way to grow the bundles, as well as a method to ensure the tubes themselves are 100% metallic will have to be found. A more thorough understanding of the electrical properties of CNTs as interconnects will be needed as well.

Nayak's groups' research will be featured in the March issue of Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter.

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Carbon Nanotubes
By winterspan on 3/17/2008 4:56:33 AM , Rating: 4
After seeing the article last week about how nanotubes are being used to speed healing of fractured bones in rats, I'm now convinced that CNTs are capable of everything imaginable.

I mean seriously, how many papers have been published in the last few years detailing some amazing new application of carbon nanotubes??? I would love to see a list put together. maybe Ill take that up.

next up for CNTs: solving the energy crisis, global peace, feeding the starving, sheltering the homeless, and leading humanity into the universe.

RE: Carbon Nanotubes
By Eric Adams on 3/17/08, Rating: 0
RE: Carbon Nanotubes
By Methusela on 3/17/2008 3:37:02 PM , Rating: 5
Carbon Nanotubes - Duct Tape for the 21st Century.

RE: Carbon Nanotubes
By Master Kenobi on 3/17/2008 8:33:54 AM , Rating: 5
solving the energy crisis

This is possible.

and leading humanity into the universe.

This is also possible.

Problem with CNT's is that they are still stuck in the labs. I have seen no evidence to indicate CNT production on any large scale for any practical purpose thus far, so until that happens, CNT's are still just a pipe dream.

RE: Carbon Nanotubes
By ninjaquick on 3/17/2008 9:31:10 AM , Rating: 3
kinda like an industrial use for silly putty.

RE: Carbon Nanotubes
By ninjaquick on 3/17/2008 9:35:56 AM , Rating: 2
oh, and on a totally random side note, can some editor tell me why we haven't had any daily deals here at daily tech recently. it was kinda nice back when it was almost a daily thing.

RE: Carbon Nanotubes
By fictisiousname on 3/17/2008 10:23:26 AM , Rating: 5
they MIGHT tell you it's "Nano your business".

RE: Carbon Nanotubes
By ZaethDekar on 3/17/2008 11:00:20 AM , Rating: 2
haha, man that was a sad yet very funny joke.

Good job :) haha.

RE: Carbon Nanotubes
By darkpuppet on 3/17/2008 10:56:57 AM , Rating: 3
I'm sure CNT would make a sillier putty than silly putty ever was....

RE: Carbon Nanotubes
By jtemplin on 3/17/2008 10:21:39 AM , Rating: 2
There are a few carbon nanotube pieces of sports equipment. Easton seems to be one manufacturer pushing CNTs. They have them in their bats, bikes etc. But yea its not like CNTs have exploded onto the market. Just thought I would point out one sector that likes to adopt exotic new materials.

RE: Carbon Nanotubes
By jtemplin on 3/17/2008 10:28:32 AM , Rating: 2
This site is kinda tacky, but it links to some legitimate products:

RE: Carbon Nanotubes
By Tsuwamono on 3/17/2008 11:52:27 AM , Rating: 2
Ya things like this are always just a pipe dream like look at all the idiots inventing useless things like ripping an atom apart, Hydrogen molocules being split, Lighting refined oil on fire, etc. Like what use would we have for these things?

More research, pls
By sgtdisturbed47 on 3/17/2008 12:28:36 AM , Rating: 2
I would love to see CPUs progress much further than where we are now, and it seems that every few years technology makes another leap.

RE: More research, pls
By nugundam93 on 3/17/2008 1:12:23 AM , Rating: 3
moore's law, it was fun while it lasted.

oh wait, would CNT-based chips then follow the same law?

RE: More research, pls
By inperfectdarkness on 3/17/2008 9:27:05 AM , Rating: 2
i'm convinced that fiber-optics would provide better interconnects than CNT's. but that's just me.

RE: More research, pls
By AnnihilatorX on 3/17/2008 9:50:30 AM , Rating: 2
Of course. CNT still relies on electrons which can still leak and affected by charges.

Photons would not have that problem. However, building optical interconnects within a chip is really hard. Traditional transistors still relies on electrons. You somehow have to bridge the two, or build a photo-transistor.

RE: More research, pls
By paydirt on 3/17/2008 10:20:45 AM , Rating: 2
CNT behaves a little bit differently (compared to metals) with electricity and electro-magnetic fields, as far as I'm aware. I DO agree that light would probably be faster unless the whole broadcasting & receiving of light signals adds some kind of delay/bottleneck...? IBM seems to have it going on with light interconnects, but they will probably limit that to commercial grade machines.

RE: More research, pls
By Tsuwamono on 3/17/2008 11:57:04 AM , Rating: 3
All of our stuff starts out in Industrial grade machines. I build boards at work with 16 layers and 32 processors on it. Whats the max on a consumer? like 4? lol

I have 2GB sticks of PC133 ram at work that we scraped a couple months ago that were for an Industrial client.

Industrial > Commercial > Consumer

BGA > PGA > LGA interfaces.

You can clearly see the distinctions in most technologies

By Integral9 on 3/17/2008 10:24:36 AM , Rating: 3
I read that whole article looking for some results only to be left wondering why this is even on a news site. It the kind of stuff you'd expect to see posted up in the hall of the engineering college under the heading, "Hey, Look what we're doing". If all you got is that RPI is using their supercomputer to run subatamic simulations to analyze the movement of electrons inside of CNTs, you should have left this story on the wall of the engineering department at RPI. It's not that the research isn't important, but it's not news, even if RPI is doing it. I'm sure there are a dozen universities / labs around the world working on the same thing. And from what I've read in the past, it's already been determined that CNTs are better conductors than copper wires.

Existing Technologies....
By svenw on 3/17/2008 4:58:06 PM , Rating: 3
Just an FYI... here are some other articles on commercial production of CNT. The first is from 2005 where it was done in a lab. The second is from two weeks ago where a US company is doing it today!

Just as a side note, you think they could make a wrinkle free shirt out of this stuff (black only)...

By MetaDFF on 3/17/08, Rating: -1
"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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