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New technique ups density of bundled nanotubes

Posted: 12 Jun 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:carbon nanotube? nanoelectronics? nanotube conductivity?

Researchers in the United States have discovered a new technique that boosts nanotube bundle density by as many as 25 times.

The technique is to immerse vertically grown tubes into a liquid organic solvent and allow them to dry, compressing the nanotubes into a dense bundle. The higher the density of carbon nanotube density, the better they can conduct electricity.

The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's (RPI) James Jiam-Qiang Lu, associate professor of physics, and electrical engineering research associate Zhengchun Liu detailed the results of the post-growth densification project at the International Interconnect Technology Conference last week.

Lu attributed the densification process to capillary coalescence, the same physical principle that allows moisture to move up a piece of tissue paper when dipped into water.

The tightly packed bundles are said to be efficient conductors, and could one day replace copper as the primary interconnects used on computer chips, according to Lu.

The RPI researchers also said the technique could hasten the transition to next-generation, three-dimensional stacked chips. "It's a significant and critical step toward the realization of carbon nanotube interconnects with better performance than copper," claimed Lu. But this would take time. "There's still a lot of work to do before this technology can be integrated into industrial applications," he said.

Alternative energy advocates such as the late Richard Smalley have long pointed to carbon nanotubes as a key technology for future power generation.

- Nicolas Mokhoff
EE Times




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