Researchers at IBM have fabricated a carbon nanotube transistor that mimics the design of modern silicon transistors but performs much better.

Transistors are the “switches” in electronic circuits, controlling the current that represents digital information. Making transistors smaller means more can be packed into circuits, resulting in more powerful computer chips.

But silicon transistors are expected to reach their physical limit of miniaturisation in the next couple of decades. Researchers hope nanotube devices may help keep circuits shrinking towards the atomic scale.