Monday, June 02, 2008

"NANOTECH: Nanotube fab gears up for production"

Carbon nanotube chips appear ready for commercialization, claims the first foundry offering carbon nanotube thin films to fabless chip makers. Nantero Inc. (Woburn, Mass.) partnered with SVTC Technologies (Austin, Texas) to offer the first eight-inch nanotube thin-film development foundry. SVTC uses Natero's process to prototype commercial CMOS carbon nanotube designs for fabless chip houses. SVTC said its first customer is prototyping a carbon nanotube-based random-access memory (NRAM). Nantero claims NRAMs could be up to 20 times denser than current flash memories using 22-nm square bit cells compared to 100-nm cells for current 16-Gbit flash memories. That's a whopping 320-Gbit/chip densities for NRAM using current lithography. Using next generation lithography, Nantero claims nanotube thin films could ultimately be capable of terabit-per-chip capacities by squeezing bit cells down to as small as 5-nm square. Besides NRAMs, carbon nanotube films are good candidates for applications like interconnection layers below the 45-nm process node where carbon nanotube thin films may outperform copper interconnects. The films also could be used to make cheap, durable touch screens, replacing indium tin oxide in flat panels for electron-field-emission displays. Other proposed applications include paper-thin batteries, super-efficient solar cells and for ultra-sensitive sensors.