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Intel may use Carbon Nanotubes

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Hardware

Chip giant Intel is looking to developments in a tiny new form of science for the potential to lift future generations of its processors.

The chip maker is stepping up its research on carbon nanotubes, tiny tubes of rolled-up carbon hexagons, one field of the emerging science of nanotechnology.

Nanotechnology, which aims to use smallness as an advantage, is being explored by chip makers such as Intel Corp., IBM and others as a way to continue boosting the performance of processors and memory, leading to future advances in the chips that power computers used in critical roles by businesses.

Intel scientists are evaluating the use of carbon nanotubes in future transistors, the tiny on/off switches used to transmit electrical signals inside chips, said Rob Willoner, a technology analyst for Intel Research.

Nanotechnology, which by definition involves working with materials that are 100 nanometers or smaller-just a fraction of the width of a human hair-has become something of a buzzword.

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