California scientists say they’ve found customized Y-shaped carbon nanotubes can compute more efficiently than conventional transistors.

The University of California-San Diego and Clemson University researchers say specially synthesized carbon nanotube structures exhibit electronic properties that are improved over conventional transistors used in computers.

The scientists said Y-shaped nanotubes behave as electronic switches similar to conventional metal oxide semiconductor transistors used in modern microprocessors, digital memory and application-specific integrated circuits.

They said their research marks the first time a transistor-like structure has been fabricated using a branched carbon nanotube and represents a new way of thinking about nano-electronic devices.

The speed and power efficiency of electronics is primarily due to the steady shrinkage in the size of conventional transistors, they said. However, industry experts predict fundamental technological and financial limits will prevent the makers of conventional MOS transistors to reduce their size much further.

But the Y-shaped nanotubes are only a few tens of nanometers thick and can be made as thin as a few nanometers. That, say the researchers, makes them candidates for a new class of transistor.

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