Northwestern University researchers have developed encapsulation layers that protect carbon nanotubes from environmental degradation, a breakthrough they say could solve many of the issues associated with making the leap from an individual, nano-based transistor to wafer-scale integrated circuits.
The researchers demonstrated a proof-of-concept by developing nanotube-based static random-access memory (SRAM) circuits, which are a key component of all microprocessors, often making up as much as 85 percent of the transistors in the central-processing units of conventional computers.
The team created the encapsulated carbon nanotubes by depositing them from a solution and coating the tubes with their encapsulation layers. The researchers used the encapsulated carbon nanotubes to design and fabricate arrays of working SRAM circuits. They found the encapsulation layers protect sensitive devices from the environment, and improve spatial uniformity among individual transistors across the wafer.
"Because our solution-processed carbon nanotubes are compatible with scalable and inexpensive printing methods, our results could enable smart cards and related printed electronics applications," says Northwestern professor Mark Hersam.
From Northwestern University Newscenter
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