IBM wants to make the internet from tubes

19/12/07. USINE DE LA MEUSIENNE- PHOTO BY LAURENT CERINO

Biggish Blue claims to have made a breakthrough in carbon nanotubes which could revolutionise microchip design.

Nanomaterials are incredibly small, which makes it incredibly hard to chisel patterns into them to make them into something useful.

IBM Research materials scientist George Tulevsk and his team have worked out how to “coax” the nanotubes into specific structures using chemistry in a similar way that you grow a crystal in a primary school science experiment.

“We’re trying to tackle that problem by borrowing from nature, because nature builds everything that way. We think that’s one of the key missing pieces.”

Tulevsk has managed to do that but is still years away from being able to manufacture nanotube-based chips at scale. And because silicon chips are still getting faster, the IBM team needs to not only create a process for reliably manufacturing nanotube-based processors, but to make the processors faster than silicon chips will be in a decade.