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June 6th, 2007
Concerned that current methods for making computer chips might become stymied as components keep shrinking, many engineers are looking for circuit building blocks with improved electrical properties.
Among the most promising are stringy carbon nanotubes that capably form transistors to switch current on and off. But the nanotubes tend to grow with unpredictable kinks and bends that could cause bad wiring connections. This week at the Design Automation Conference in San Diego, a group of Stanford engineers will present a way to design circuits that should work even when many of the nanotubes in them are twisted and misaligned.
"The question is what's next in chip technologies," says Subhasish Mitra, an assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science. "That's why nanotechnology is important. But you want to make sure that you are not in a lab making something that chip designers cannot actually use."
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