US engineers have produced the world’s first carbon nanotube high-speed transistor. University of California at Irvine researchers led by Peter Burke used a single-walled carbon nanotube sandwiched between two gold electrodes to produce a device that operates at extremely fast microwave frequencies. This could result in nanoelectronic components to replace silicon in electronic applications.
As conventional electronics get smaller, the theoretical limits of silicon based circuitry is set to be reached in around a decade but carbon nanotubes could be used to take electronics to even smaller sizes.
Burke and his colleagues sandwiched a semiconducting single-walled nanotube between gold source and drain electrodes to make their transistor. Although it currently only operates at temperatures around 4 kelvin, the device operated at 2.6 gigahertz making it the fastest nanotube transistor made to date. Burke believes the transistor can be made to work at room temperatures and at terahertz speeds.