New material promises higher-performance electronics

Material engineers including an Indian-origin scientist from University of Wisconsin-Madison have reported the highest-performing carbon nanotube transistors ever demonstrated – a significant leap toward creating flexible electronics with improved battery life.

Carbon nanotubes are single atomic sheets of carbon rolled up into a tube.

As some of the best electrical conductors ever discovered, carbon nanotubes have long been recognised as a promising material for next-generation transistors.

“Carbon nanotubes are very strong and very flexible so they could also be used to make flexible displays and electronics that can stretch and bend, allowing you to integrate electronics into new places like clothing,” explained associate professor Michael Arnold.

Led by Arnold and professor Padma Gopalan, the team reported transistors with an on-off ratio that is 1,000 times better and a conductance that is 100 times better than previous state-of-the-art carbon nanotube transistors.

In addition to paving the way for improved consumer electronics, this technology could also have specific uses in industrial and military applications.

The discovery also brings the researchers closer to realising carbon nanotube transistors as a feasible replacement for silicon transistors in computer chips and in high-frequency communication devices, which are rapidly approaching their physical scaling and performance limits.

“With these results, we have really made a leap in carbon nanotube transistors,” the authors concluded.

The paper was published in the journal ACS Nano.