Intel is eyeing carbon nanotubes as a possible replacement for copper wires inside semiconductors, a switch that one day could eliminate some big problems for chipmakers. Intel has managed to create prototype interconnects–microscopic metallic wires inside of chips that link transistors–out of carbon nanotubes and measure how well the interconnects perform. In essence, the experiments are a way to test whether the theories about the properties of carbon nanotubes are accurate. Carbon nanotubes conduct electricity far better than metals and are also far thinner than metal interconnects can be made. IBM and others have made transistors out of carbon nanotubes. Carbon nanotube interconnects won’t likely appear in a commercial chip for several years at best.

Intel is eyeing carbon nanotubes as a possible replacement for copper wires inside semiconductors, a switch that one day could eliminate some big problems for chipmakers. Intel has managed to create prototype interconnects–microscopic metallic wires inside of chips that link transistors–out of carbon nanotubes and measure how well the interconnects perform. In essence, the experiments are a way to test whether the theories about the properties of carbon nanotubes are accurate. Carbon nanotubes conduct electricity far better than metals and are also far thinner than metal interconnects can be made. IBM and others have made transistors out of carbon nanotubes. Carbon nanotube interconnects won’t likely appear in a commercial chip for several years at best.