Researchers at Infineon Technologies have succeeded in their efforts to produce a prototype power transistor based on carbon nanotubes.
Carbon nanotubes are pipes with walls that are as wide as a single carbon atom. They have been shown to conduct electricity up to 25 times better than any other known semiconductor. The experimental material has been used by companies such as IBM to construct prototype chips that could process or store information.
However, Infineon claimed it was the first company to use carbon nanotubes to produce a power transistor, a type of chip used as power switches in applications such as light-emitting diodes and small electric motors.
Infineon's prototype power transistor, which consists of 300 carbon nanotubes arranged in parallel, is capable of switching LEDs and electric motors at a voltage of 2.5 volts. Carbon nanotubes had not previously been believed capable of withstanding the high voltages used in power transistors.
In the future, carbon nanotube technology could simplify the production of power transistors and produce chips that are smaller, cheaper, faster and produce less heat than existing technology allows, Infineon said.
The researchers said they had no idea how long it will take to bring the technology into commercial production on a large scale.
Sumner Lemon writes for IDG News Service