Graphene Chip Reaches the Level of a 1979 Zilog Z8000

Max Shulaker and a group of researchers he leads has developed a working 16-bit microprocessor built from over 14,000 carbon nanotube transistors that is the most complex ever demonstrated. The techniques they have come up with can be implemented with equipment used for making conventional silicon chips, which means chipmakers won’t have to invest in expensive new gear if they want to make nanotube processors.

They got around the intermixing problem. They discovered that some kinds of logic gates, which are fundamental building blocks of digital circuits, were more resistant to problems triggered by metallic-like nanotubes than others. That led them to develop a new circuit design that prioritizes these gates, while minimizing the use of more sensitive metallic ones.

They solved the bundling problem. They coated a wafer in a polymer and then carefully washed it off in stages. This stripped off the nanotube clumps, leaving behind the monolayer needed to make the chip work most efficiently.

If they can rapidly scale up to the billions of transistors on current silicon chips then the graphene chips could be faster and use ten times less energy.

Nature – Modern microprocessor built from complementary carbon nanotube transistors

Written By Isaac Wang,