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Carbon nanotubes outperform copper nanowires as interconnects
Date:3/13/2008

imulations based on those models cannot be used to accurately predict the behavior and performance of copper nanowire. Using quantum mechanics, which deals with physics at the atomic level, is more difficult but allows for a fuller, more accurate model.

If you go to the nanoscale, objects do not behave as they do at the macroscale, Nayak said. Looking forward to the future of computers, it is essential that we solve problems with quantum mechanics to obtain the most complete, reliable data possible.

The size of computer chips has shrunk dramatically over the past decade, but has recently hit a bottleneck, Nayak said. Interconnects, the tiny copper wires that transport electricity and information around the chip and to other chips, have also shrunk. As interconnects get smaller, the coppers resistance increases and its ability to conduct electricity degrades. This means fewer electrons are able to pass through the copper successfully, and any lingering electrons are expressed as heat. This heat can have negative effects on both a computer chips speed and performance.

Researchers in both industry and academia are looking for alternative materials to replace copper as interconnects. Carbon nanotube bundles are a popular possible successor to copper, Nayak said, because of the materials excellent conductivity and mechanical integrity. It is generally accepted that a quality replacement for copper must be discovered and perfected in the next five to 10 years in order to further perpetuate Moores Law an industry mantra that states the number of transistors on a computer chip, and thus the chips speed, should double every 18-24 months.

Nayak said there are still many challenges to overcome before mass-produced carbon nanotube interconnects can be realized. There are still issues concerning the cost of efficiency of creating bulk carbon nanotubes, and growing nanotubes that are solely metallic rather than their current state being of par
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Contact: Michael Mullaney
mullam@rpi.edu
518-276-6161
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert

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