(p. B3) In the semiconductor business, it is called the “red brick wall” — the limit of the industry’s ability to shrink transistors beyond a certain size.
On Thursday, however, IBM scientists reported that they now believe they see a path around the wall. Writing in the journal Science, a team at the company’s Thomas J. Watson Research Center said it has found a new way to make transistors from parallel rows of carbon nanotubes.
The advance is based on a new way to connect ultrathin metal wires to the nanotubes that will make it possible to continue shrinking the width of the wires without increasing electrical resistance.
One of the principal challenges facing chip makers is that resistance and heat increase as wires become smaller, and that limits the speed of chips, which contain transistors.
The advance would make it possible, probably sometime after the beginning of the next decade, to shrink the contact point between the two materials to just 40 atoms in width, the researchers said. Three years later, the number will shrink to just 28 atoms, they predicted.
. . .
. . . , during the last decade, the pace and power of semiconductor technology has begun to slow. The switching speed of computer chips stopped increasing because heat created by ultrafast processors was rising to the point where the chips would break.
More recently, for most of the industry, the cost of transistors has ceased to decline with each new generation. This has undercut the tremendous power of the technology to create new markets. And this year, Intel announced that the challenges and costs of bringing a new generation of technology to market had forced it to slow the every-two-year pace it had been on for more than a decade.
Now the industry has a new reason for optimism.
For the full story, see:
JOHN MARKOFF. “IBM Scientists Find New Way to Shrink Transistors (Measuring in Atoms).” The New York Times (Fri., OCT. 2, 2015): B3.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the story has the date OCT. 1, 2015, and has the title “IBM Scientists Find New Way to Shrink Transistors.”)
The IBM advance is documented in:
Cao, Qing, Shu-Jen Han, Jerry Tersoff, Aaron D. Franklin, Yu Zhu, Zhen Zhang, George S. Tulevski, Jianshi Tang, and Wilfried Haensch. “End-Bonded Contacts for Carbon Nanotube Transistors with Low, Size-Independent Resistance.” Science 350, no. 6256 (Oct. 2, 2015): 68-72.