Nanotechnology in Microprocessors

Subject: Technology
Type: Descriptive Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1446
Topics: Innovation, Civil Engineering


Scientists continue to research on molecular and atomic level technologies that have the potential revolutionize many aspects of material engineering. Nanotechnology is currently the most promising revolutionary technology under research which is limited to particles less than 100nm. Just from theoretical analysis, its applications and advantages surpass the existing technologies by a very large margin. Nanotechnology in microprocessors has various applications ranging from superconductivity of electricity, heat and hence information. Thus can be used to form efficient heat sinks, faster computers and smaller machines. The invention of materials such as graphene has out proven CMOS transistor technology. Faster, and efficient materials can be made from graphene and used to design powerful computing units compared to the transistor technology. The challenge with nanotechnology still depends on the method used in the production of such materials. It is the scientific procedure used at this Nano scale production units that determines the application of nanotechnology. 


Nanotechnology is best understood from its applications. Discussions based on the possible applications which also have been printed in various scientific journals prove to be the best attempt at explaining the possibilities of nanotechnology. All fields of science have had many professors and researchers publishing research papers that indicate vast application possibilities of Nanotechnology. Carbon nanotubes which are hexagonal lattices of about 10 to 60 nanometers in diameter are products of nanotechnology with the capability to replace transistor technology. Carbon nanotubes promise extremely faster computation devices as more reliable microprocessors are developed. This paper highlights the research around the application of nanotechnology in microprocessors. 

Cooling of Microprocessors

Introduction of nanotechnology in microprocessors solves overheating of the chip which is a major problem. Scientifically, the frequent switching action during logic operation of the logic gates inside a microprocessor chip causes the semiconductor chips to draw more current whose resistance releases energy in form of heat thus overheating. This is a challenge for computing devices and efficient cooling systems have to be used. Scientists have effectively determined that carbon nanotubes have high thermal conductivity and can be used to quickly conduct away heat faster (Ngô, C., & Van, V. M. H. 2014). This improves dissipation of heat away from the semiconductor chips. As a result, the semiconductor chips in the microprocessors operate at optimum conditions thus processing information efficiently.

In order to use carbon nanotubes on microprocessors, they have to be grown using a controlled procedure. The growing process involves the use of dendrimers as a base material for attachment of carbon nanotubes. Exposing the surface to methane gas in the presence of a metal catalyst and with the help of microwaves, the carbon in methane separates and atomically binds in hexagonal sheets on the surface forming a mesh of carbon walls on the surface (Anderson, N. G., Ercan, I., & Ganesh, N., 2013). Precision application of current allows the carbon nanotubes to be grown in specific dimensions. The resulting carbon nanotubes provide closed conductivity, unlike metals which often have air bubbles in their structure. The advantage of this is higher thermal conductivity and manufacture of small size machines during production.

Carbon Nanotube Chip

Scientists from IBM have designed a procedure to allow for the development of chips with nanotube arrays. Nanotubes in the silicon devices can be grown at 10nm apart, 6 in each row and providing a higher performance with low power consumption as compared to the transistor technology (Rambidi, 2014). However, while these carbon nanotube chips prove to be better than the silicon chip microprocessor chips, for a full exploitation of their potential, further research is needed. Specifically, the ability to manipulate the growth of the carbon nanotubes on the chips would make it possible to control the resulting shapes and sizes of the nanotubes hence providing a more efficient means of controlling data processing with the chip. Carbon nanotubes would match the requirements of quantum computing which requires cryogenic temperatures to operate (Anderson et. al, 2013). The ability of carbon nanotubes to operate at low temperatures and conduct away heat guarantees configuration with quantum computing.

Optoelectronic and Photonic Microprocessors

Advanced research in increasing information processing power of computing chips has led scientists to start using light instead of electrons as information carriers. Photons carry data from point to another using specially made optical components. The challenge is to produce such optical components at manufacturing scale level. Presently, test prototypes can be manufactured. Using nanotubes to relay data between devices can help achieve the necessary speeds and isolation of light at very small scale (Rambidi, 2014). However, the wavelength of light is even larger than that of Nanotubes scale materials but with further scientific research, utilizing the speed of light, the efficiency of nanotubes and the power of quantum microprocessors, it is possible to develop superfast computers that will meet the ever-growing demand for faster computing devices.

Identified Challenges

Most of the challenges facing nanotechnology in microprocessors are based on the procedures of handling or developing the nanotubes. For instance, during the development of carbon nanotubes, the fibres grow randomly. It is necessary to control their growth dimensions in accordance with a predefined design. Currently, this is being tried using electric current fed through a nanotube contact that feeds current into the growing pattern to guide its growth.

Carbon nanotubes have a high thermal conductivity but also face a challenge in which high thermal resistance along interfaces with other materials has to be overcome. This is because carbon is highly stable and does not chemically react with other materials. Even in an improved carbon nanotube and metal contact interface, the majority of carbon nanotubes might fail to connect with the metal causing redundancy. This could be due to various factors including the structural properties of the metal contact such as density. Scaling the density of this contact material could enhance contact and hence achieve the expected cooling (Rambidi, 2014).

With every advancement comes a new challenge that must be understood and overcame to realize the theoretical advantages of nanotechnology on physical material. For instance, the use of nanotechnology in the environment possess similar risks to those of asbestos fibres. Nanotubes are basically Nanoscale fibres which can be inhaled in which case they are likely to inhibit proper cell function in the lungs and cause cancerous tissue malformations (Ngô et. al, 2014). Proper handling is necessary to prevent damage and exposure to the environment.

Internet Research Results

Microprocessors use memory devices to hold information while processing. While CMOS technology is very efficient in today’s applications, futuristic applications would not be efficient with high data volumes and quantum computing. The memory used such as ROM tend to wear out due to repeat multiple rewrites to a data address. Many factors contribute to this long-term failure and are the reason for the development of newer technologies such as ferromagnetic devices. Ferromagnetic storage devices, for instance, can withstand relatively higher radiation levels besides being less volatile (Ngô et. al, 2014). This makes those devices very efficient in handling information in high risk environments such as space exploration, deep sea exploration or in data collection from scientific experiments such as those in hadron colliders (Dutta et. al, 2013). The magnetic properties of electric action in such environment would not distort the information.

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Graphene is a monolayer carbon atom sheet composed of a hexagonal lattice of carbon atoms bonded together with impressive qualities. This material can be considered a breakthrough in material science and hence nanotechnology as per the various applications the material promises. The material is highly superconductive which enables it to transfer information across microprocessors at very high speeds. Its development promises to form the foundation of high-speed computing in Nanoscale technology (Dutta et. al, 2013). In fact, there is the possibility of creating relatively transparent glass-like materials with graphene in handheld devices, a fit that cannot be achieved with the current CMOS transistor technology. Similar technology used in the development of graphene is being employed in the development of molecular electronics in which transistors and electronic chips are being manufactured using materials with single molecule layer.


Applications of nanotechnology in microprocessors mainly focus on the cooling aspect of the carbon nanotubes, the superconductivity of nanotubes and the ease of implementation with other technologies such as ferromagnetic devices and quantum computing. These applications are supported by the fact that nanotubes have a lot of advantages compared to the semiconductor silicon chip. Nanotubes are superconductors of both heat and electricity and hence information, they can also be adopted for photonics and in exotic optoelectronic devices for even efficient materials with smaller sizes. Their applications in microprocessors continue to abound. Future projections predict the full replacement of semiconductor transistors with carbon nanotube transistors.

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  1. Anderson, N. G., Ercan, I., & Ganesh, N. (November 28, 2013). Toward nano processor thermodynamics. Ieee Transactions on Nanotechnology, 12, 6, 902-909.
  2. Dutta, A. K., George, T., Hirose, K., Islam, M. S., Kobayashi, D., Saito, H., Defense, Security, and Sensing 7, … Interaction of Semiconductors and High-Energy Particles 9. (May 29, 2013). Radiation-tolerant microprocessors in Japanese scientific space vehicles: how to maximize the benefits of commercial SOI technologies. 8725, 872517.
  3. Ngô, C., & Van, . V. M. H. (January 01, 2014). Major Trends in Nanoelectronics.
  4. Rambidi, N. G. (January 01, 2014). Computer Engineering and Nanotechnology.
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