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Intel Experimenting With Nanotubes

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the tuuuubes dept.

85

illeism writes "C|Net is reporting on Intel's experimentation with nanotubes in processors. From the article: 'The chip giant has managed to create prototype interconnects — microscopic metallic wires inside of chips that link transistors ... Carbon nanotubes ... conduct electricity far better than metals. In fact, nanotubes exhibit what's called ballistic conductivity, which means that electrons are not scattered or impeded by obstacles.'"

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Someone Alert Ted Stevens! (4, Funny)

vought (160908) | more than 7 years ago | (#16802878)

Tubes are ascendant!

Truly, Ted is a technology genius. It's only a matter of time before these "nano tubes" are implemented to speed delivery of Internet content.

Re:Someone Alert Ted Stevens! (4, Funny)

Darth Liberus (874275) | more than 7 years ago | (#16802900)

Haha, I was going to say "a processor is not a big truck you can dump something on... it's a series of tubes!"

Re:Someone Alert Ted Stevens! (1)

Mr. Picklesworth (931427) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803084)

Well, if those mysterious phone company Martians build the Interwebs with these things...

Re:Someone Alert Ted Stevens! (5, Funny)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16802914)

I'd like to see you fit a CPU through those tubes when some other schmuck is streaming his video CPU. Why, I sent my 'mov 0x000010D0' CPU 300 milliseconds ago, and my CPU just ended 2 milliseconds ago! You have to understand that those tubes can be clogged! :P

Re:Someone Alert Ted Stevens! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803054)

You have to expect clogging if somebody does a core dump in your tubes.

I can't believe the grandparent was modded insightful. Who'da thought Stevens reads Slashdot and had mod points?

Re:Someone Alert Ted Stevens! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803394)

I sent my 'mov 0x000010D0' CPU 300 milliseconds ago, and my CPU just ended 2 milliseconds ago!

Nah, it's just because you're asking the CPU to guess which register (or memory location) should hold that DWORD of yours ;) So it just hesitated a bit :p

I for one, welcome our new register-guessing CPU overlords - soon to become self-aware for sure. Intel must have got their hands on some Terminator part, time to destroy their factory to stop it from hapenning!

Re:Someone Alert Ted Stevens! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803128)

Yeah, no kidding. Scene from the upcoming Michael Bay remake of The Graduate, where Leo DiCaprio's character encounters Christopher Walken at his party:

Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Benjamin: Yes, sir.
Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
Benjamin: Yes, I am.
Mr. McGuire: Tubes.

Re:Someone Alert Ted Stevens! (2, Funny)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 7 years ago | (#16806132)

Steven's wasn't as prescient as you think. Remember all those ads about Intel CPUs making your internet faster?

will it run linux any better? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16802894)

because linux runs fairly shit at the moment... it's a poor man's toy.

Re:will it run linux any better? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16802928)

uk person detected

be on the lookout for bad beer/food/teeth in the area

red herring alert... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803182)

something smells bad, very bad. Oh, yes, it is YOU. Bad hygiene. Moronocity. Get lost dude. he's american

Do you believe in the effectiveness of nanotubes? (-1, Flamebait)

SoVeryTired (967875) | more than 7 years ago | (#16802930)

Well, if some sort of a speedup is an eight-year-old boy and a carbon nanotube is my penis, then yes.

Re:Do you believe in the effectiveness of nanotube (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803024)

Oh crap. Looks like I forgot to post anonymously. Well, I know how to fix that.

Re:Do you believe in the effectiveness of nanotube (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803088)

Blame Haggard.

Re:Do you believe in the effectiveness of nanotube (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803364)

a carbon nanotube is my penis
I wouldn't make those analogies comparing your penis to a nanotube in public, at least in the presence of any potential future girlfriends....

Re:Do you believe in the effectiveness of nanotube (0, Offtopic)

jericho4.0 (565125) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803802)

None of the dates I've got of /. were really 'girlfriend' material.

Re:Do you believe in the effectiveness of nanotube (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803388)

Your penis is 50,000 times smaller than a human hair?

Nanotubes? (3, Funny)

JFMulder (59706) | more than 7 years ago | (#16802936)

You mean like really really small Internets?

Quantum Dots (5, Interesting)

googlebear (625615) | more than 7 years ago | (#16802940)

Hey this is all really interesting stuff ...I think getting Intel behind some of the manufacturing technicalities is a major boon to the industry. Nanotubes, if intel's research confirms this, should prove to be useful in many different applications from mass power distribution to an elevator to the heavens.. who knows .. stay tunes.. also as an interesting side note.. VLSI will hit a rock bottom soon... I did a presentation in my Nanotechnology class last Spring on Quantum Dot Cellular Automata . This uses the electromagnetic repulsion of electons to propegate signals across molecules that are arranged in such a way to form logic gates.. http://www.nd.edu/~qcahome/ [nd.edu] -Ian ian at ianroessle.org

Re:Quantum Dots (1)

Chrononium (925164) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803412)

It would be a shame if they threw away all of VLSI, as it's not just a digital world -- all of our nice wireless devices require some kind of analog layout, since most of modern communications are based around the concept of wave (not particle) models. QCA definitely sounds interesting, but it's hardly the first attempt at reversible computing. As for Intel: the company is simply benefiting from those marvelous fabs and all of its consortium connections. I suspect that VLSI is going to be with us for a bit more time, especially with the advent of metamaterial-based optical circuits.

Re:Quantum Dots (1)

marnues (906739) | more than 7 years ago | (#16807470)

Even if QCA took over, VLSI would be necessary. The clocking model requires an electromagnetic field, which is currently created with VLSI technologies.

Re:Quantum Dots (1)

Chrononium (925164) | more than 7 years ago | (#16810378)

I'm a bit confused on this point (only tangentially related): I think that it is the Coulomb force which determines the arrangement of the dots, so are we actually talking about electromagnetic fields, or merely electrostatic/magnetostatic fields? This matters as the former implies a considerable delay, but a generality in terms of the computational model, whereas the latter implies negligible delay. VLSI was founded on the latter for simplicity, but naturally has had to work in the former for a while now (since we can't create small enough chips).

Re:Quantum Dots (1)

JoeDog42069 (732642) | more than 7 years ago | (#16805998)

Could you be referreing to quantum dots produced by the company QDot now owned by Invitrogen???

3D Microprocessors (4, Interesting)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16802954)

This sounds like it could be of particular use in 3D microprocessor technology. With the number of cores per die ramping up at incredible rates, we're starting to bump into latency issues again. I know that several memory manufacturers (who experinece similar die-space problems) have already switched to layered components to help relieve the issue and keep their dies smaller. But if we can weave nanotubes, we could do a lot more than just stack transistors three or four levels deep. Assuming that a inexpensive manufacturing process were developed, the chip could actually be fashioned in the shape of a cube. The result would make the chip orders of magnitude more dense than the CPUs of today!

Besides, it would look like a Borg cube under a microscope. How cool is that?!? :P

Power is Heat (4, Insightful)

TheStonepedo (885845) | more than 7 years ago | (#16802988)

If you get something running topped-out it may produce some waste heat. Thin chips with only a few layers can rely on a large, flat piece of some kind of substrate attached to a big heat sink and fan. If you make a cube-shaped processor, the innermost parts' heat will have to be dissipated through many other layers of working parts, creating a temperature gradient within the processor. If the innermost parts must be kept below a certain temperature, the outermost must be kept well below that temperature to allow for thermal conduction and the whole thing will have to run very cool relative to today's chips.

Re:Power is Heat (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803076)

You are perfectly correct. This is currently one of the challenges facing 3D chip design. That said, there are several properties claimed by the article that would make nanotubes more suitable. First and foremost is that the nanotubes supposedly provide less resistance. Heat != Power per se, but rather the amount of resistance to the power applied. Less resistance == less heat. In addition, the amount of heat generated by resistance is also a function of distance. So the shorter distances provided by 3D nanotubing would provide less heat and overall power usage.

I'm also tempted to suggest that the empty space between tubings could be flooded with some sort of coolant to eliminate the temperature gradient; but I have my doubts about the feasibility of that. At such a small level, you'd have a lot of difficulty trying to fit atoms into that space. In addition, you'd probably do more to damage the circuitry than heat removal. Still, that doesn't place micro-heatpumps woven into the circuits entirely out of the question. Just mostly. ;)

In any case, we're already using WAY too much power to keep up these ridiculous clock speeds. Forcing chip-makers to scale the power usage back a bit wouldn't be all that bad of a thing. Especially if they're getting replacement speed increases from the smaller interconnects and lower resistance of the nanotubes.

Re:Nanotubes good conductors of heat (3, Interesting)

noigmn (929935) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803348)

I'm not sure what is used in processors currently, but having the links as nanotubes would help the heat transfer within the material also. Nanotubes have a thermal conductivity of around 2000-3000 W/m/K at normal CPU operating temperatures. This is a huge increase when you compare it to the 149 W/m/K for silicon and 318 W/m/K for gold at room temperature.

So the increase in thermal conductivity by just having a proportion of the CPU made from nanotubes could possibly be enough to make up for the shape change. I wouldn't have thought much power would be saved by using nanotubes over any other conductor though. I'd be guessing most of the power loss is in the silicon gates, but I might be wrong.

http://www.pa.msu.edu/cmp/csc/ntproperties/thermal transport.html [msu.edu] Carbon Nanotube Thermal Conductivity

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silicon [wikipedia.org] Silicon Thermal Conductivity

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold [wikipedia.org] Gold Thermal Conductivity

Re:Power is Heat (3, Interesting)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803496)

Actually I remember an article here a while back about nanotubes being used to desalinize water. Apparently the perfectly smooth tubes aid the flow of water and defy the usual "size of pipe is proportional to water pressure" equations. What you could actually do in a 3D chip is leave extra nanotubes built in that simply flow in straight lines through the gaps in the chip where no conductive tubes are located, then pumping fluids through it wouldn't cause problems at all.

The excellent heat-transfer of nanotubes, plus the efficient water flow through them would make cooling them much better than current chips.

Sierpinski Cube then (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803380)

The smallest Sierpinski Cube has 20 blocks and 7 empty spaces, so I guess a Sierpinski cpu would be 25% larger than necessary, but easy to cool.

Re:Power is Heat (1)

philipgar (595691) | more than 7 years ago | (#16811966)

one of the ways around this problem is through building in heat pipes into the silicon. 3-D chips will have metal vias between the chip layers for the transfer of data, but additionally they will include metal vias at strategic points to handle heat transfer. Additionally it is unlikely 3-D chips will get beyond a couple of layers anytime soon, the problem is just that it's so expensive to produce mask sets for those chips. Assuming each chip layer has the same number of metal layers, having a mask set for a 3D chip with just 2 layers of silicon will cost twice as much as single layer devices. However, this could allow for some extremely fast FPGA-like circuits, as they can be reused for many many different usages, but that's a different story altogether.

phil

Re:3D Microprocessors (2, Interesting)

rogtioko (1024857) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803372)

Another problem with stacked processors, besides heat, is that to really take advantage of the proximity the interface would have to be changed to one that integrates individual units of each processor more directly. This is far from conventional in terms of normal multicore-chip manufacture and would suffer from non-mainstream extra costs. Still, it should be designed and manufactured: the costs would go down when demand follows.
        I've read that, like 3d microprocessors, memory dies have often been stacked one on top of another (in slower DDR, DDR2 and NAND flash memory). The stacking allows good performance capacity upgrades with limited space; it's more cost effective! If Stacked memory dies sandwich a memory controller, the closer and faster operation would solve a big problem of distance latencies found in the cooperation of single memory dies embedded far apart on a flat circuit board with a memory controller. I could see a mainstream purely stacked memory chip. And if the nanotube interconnect idea works, it could be well implemented in both smaller individual dies and stacked ones.

Re:3D Microprocessors (2, Insightful)

Iron Condor (964856) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803548)

number of cores per die ramping up at incredible rates,

Yeah, we're already up to ... uh ... four...

Re:3D Microprocessors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803670)

6. Cell.

Re:3D Microprocessors (2, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16806126)

GeForce 8: 128 Stream Processors [wikipedia.org]
Sparc T1: 8 Cores w/4 threads [wikipedia.org] (Maximum thoroughput: 32 simultaneous processes)
16 Core POWER5 [ibm.com]
Cell Processor: 1 Primary + 8 Sub-Processors [wikipedia.org]

Intel Promises 80 cores [com.com]

We're at a LOT more than "four".

Re:3D Microprocessors (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16807512)

Dear French,

Still no Germans running France?
You're welcome

Love,
America

I have already seen the future (1)

tqft (619476) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804194)

Don't forget the blinking lights.

Light still is faster than electrons.

Call me when I get Orac for my Desktop.

What??? (5, Funny)

Rellik66 (596729) | more than 7 years ago | (#16802958)

No Nanotrucks?

Re:What??? (1)

ExploHD (888637) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803524)

No Nanotrucks?
--
No, I'm still breaking my MicroMachines WAY to easily.

Re:What??? (1)

i kan reed (749298) | more than 7 years ago | (#16805024)

a quick search on site:slashdot.org found an article [slashdot.org] about nanotrucks over a year ago.

Don't let random people write science articles (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16802976)

Carbon nanotubes conduct electricity far better than metals
What a stupid comment. If a carbon nanotube conducts electricity then it is by definition a metal.

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16802998)

People will conduct electricity (otherwise the electric chair wouldn't work), does that mean that people are made out of metal?

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (1)

DrMrLordX (559371) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803096)

Yes! [imdb.com]

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803212)

Ugh. I meant the usual meaning of "conducts electricity", not some sick definition where everything including insulators "conduct electricity" because they do if you subject them to 1 gazillon volts. If you need a technical definition to understand then read the Metal article on Wikipedia.

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803244)

Stop backpedaling. You know you were wrong, and that's all that counts.

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (5, Funny)

pyrote (151588) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803218)

What a stupid comment. If a carbon nanotube conducts electricity then it is by definition a metal.
|People will conduct electricity (otherwise the electric chair wouldn't work), does that mean that people are made out of metal?

And if they float, they are witches! BUUURN..... er ahem.... carry on.

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16810574)

Not to mention that because they float they weigh no more than a duck and ducks float because they're made of wood. So in conclusion Humans are made of wood not metal.

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803114)

While metals tend to be excellent electrical conductors, pretty much anything can conduct given enough voltage. Even air conducts, as evidenced via lightning.

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (4, Informative)

wass (72082) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803136)

What a stupid comment. If a carbon nanotube conducts electricity then it is by definition a metal.


Are you serious, or are you just trolling? As a blatant counterexample, there are non-metallic superconductors, which conduct electricity infinitely better than a metal. So sure, metals conduct (with non-zero resistance) and have some common characteristics, eg their fermi energy typically lies in the middle of a band (unlike semiconductors or insulators), ratio of thermal to electrical conductivity is relatively constant, etc.


But there are many things that also conduct fairly well at room temperature, such as doped silicon (an insulator). However, cool down silicon and the resistance increases (not enough thermal energy to excite electrons above the bandgap). Cool down a metal and its resistance will decrease (to a limiting factor). Cool down a superconductor and it undergoes a phase transition to a state of infinite conductivity.


Carbon nanotubes are actually extremely interesting in this regards, they can look metallic or insulating, depending on the chirality (ie, how the graphene plane is rolled into a tube). The metallic ones (with the fermi energy in the middle of a band) have quite long mean-free paths. Hence electrons can travel through the tube without scattering (this is the ballistic travel mentioned in the slashdot blurb). This limits the nanotubes resistance to the quantum resistance of about 25 kOhm. (Actually, the tube's resistance is 1/4 this resistance, as there are four quantum conducting channels because the graphene plane has two independent sites in its unit cell, and each site can have two values of electron spin).


Even some the insulating (or semiconducting) carbon nanotubes (or the graphene plane itself) are really cool. Due to the layout of the graphene plane, the band structure isn't pseudo-parabolic (as in a standard insulator) but conical (two cones meeting at a point), like a Minkowski light cone, or MCP from TRON. In the right orientations, the Fermi energy lies exactly at the intersection, and believe it or not, the excited states look EXACTLY like relativistic massive particles. The speed of light is mapped to the speed of sound instead, in this system. Really cool stuff, there are tons of future applications for nanotubes and graphene studies due to the interesting band structure, we've only really begun to break the surface.

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (1)

JFMulder (59706) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803232)

But there are many things that also conduct fairly well at room temperature, such as doped silicon (an insulator).

Or how about a person?

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803402)

Or how about a person?

Doped carbon.

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803404)


What a stupid comment. If a carbon nanotube conducts electricity then it is by definition a metal.


Are you serious, or are you just trolling? As a blatant counterexample, there are non-metallic superconductors, which conduct electricity infinitely better than a metal ...

But there are many things that also conduct fairly well at room temperature, such as doped silicon (an insulator).


Hilarity. I was waiting for you to mention good 'ol H2O.

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (1)

Eternauta3k (680157) | more than 7 years ago | (#16807392)

Hilarity. I was waiting for you to mention good 'ol H2O
You mean the ions dissolved on said H2O
We actually did the experiment in class, with water, electrodes, a battery, a small light bulb and salt.

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16803552)

I'm not sure who's trolling here. Your post says that you accept that the nanotubes of the article are metals, so your beef is only about the definition of "metallic", but you fail to provide one.

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (1)

MadUndergrad (950779) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803652)

Just a bit of a nitpick: resistance is the measure of how much a certain object/length of wire resists current. For a type of material of unknown physical characteristics resistivity (Ohms*meters) is the proper unit. Otherwise, very informative and interesting post.

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (1)

wass (72082) | more than 7 years ago | (#16806312)

For a type of material of unknown physical characteristics resistivity (Ohms*meters) is the proper unit.


Wrong, not in the quantum ballistic limit, where each quantum conducting channel contributes one unit of quantum conductance, (2e^2/h), where conductance is inverse of resistance. It makes no sense to talk about resistance per unit length when the electron travels ballistically through the device!

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (1)

MadUndergrad (950779) | more than 7 years ago | (#16820756)

Hmm, interesting. Learn something new everyday.

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (1)

wass (72082) | more than 7 years ago | (#16827118)

'Resistivity' is really only valid on a macroscopic scale, where electron transfer is dominated by diffusive motion. Ie, one can derive Ohm's Law quite easily in the simplest example for a metal with scattering, the Drude Model [wikipedia.org] .


In that link, when they get to the point J=sigma E, that is Ohm's Law, albeit in a form you might not be familiar with, where J is the current density, E is electric field, and sigma is conductivity, or the inverse of resistivity. Assuming no gradients in current or field, you can use J=I/A and E=V/d where A is cross-sectional area, d is length of the chunk, and you can derive Ohm's law in the form you're more familiar with, with the resistance as a function of resistivity (the one you alluded to previously).

insulating or semiconductive (1)

cyfer2000 (548592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804826)

I remember single wall nanotubes are either metallic or semiconductive. It is pretty interesting to know how could they only grow metallic nanotubes or remove semiconductive nanotubes. Or actually they don't, and the electrons select metallic tubes automatically, but I highly doubt this approach because the electrons via metallic nannotubes and electrons via semiconductive nanotubes will arrive at different time. I am waiting for my friend who attend the meeting tell me the whole story.

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (1)

spankey51 (804888) | more than 7 years ago | (#16805408)

Random people writing science articles is almost as annoying as politicians deciding whether global warming is real, stem cell research is kosher, or evolution is impossible because the numbers are too big. -I agree, leave it to the professionals.

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16807364)

What a stupid comment. If a carbon nanotube conducts electricity then it is by definition a metal.

Are you serious, or are you just trolling?


What's sad is he just might be serious, I had a teacher in high school(Utah) who tried to tell me gravity is the result of a giant magnet at the center of the earth, and the only reason everything stays down is because everything has metal in it.

If that doesn't make you cry I don't know what will.

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (1)

TheZorch (925979) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803444)

Wrong! There are plastics that can conduct electricity, water conducts electricity, and in some rare instances certain mixures of concrete can conduct electricity.

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (1)

GammaKitsune (826576) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803594)

Hmmm. Now, I'm not so good at the Chemistry, but I seem to remember water being a non-conductive material. It needed electrolytes or something like that to conduct electricity, didn't it?

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (2, Informative)

maraist (68387) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803892)

Resistivity is the inverse of conductivity..
Conductivity is a function of:
A) Number of possible free electron states (positions) - function of temperature
B) Mean time to collision for given electron - function of temperature
C) [free] Electron density - function of temperature

Note that higher temperatures mean:
B) greater vibrational or translational properties of the material which obstruct the paths of free electrons.. So B is inversely proportional to temperature.
C) greater number of electrons are excited and thus broken from their atomic bonds (or at least lower atomic orbitals) and thus a greater number of electrons are available to participate in conduction. So C is directly proportional to temperature

Any material that
A) has free electrons (non-atomicly bound OR in covalent orbitals / orbitals shared between atoms)
B) has a non-infinite potential barrier between geometric positions
C) is above absolute zero

Naturally, the wider the path (radially), the greater the number of electrons and the greater the number of electron states, so the greater the conductivity.. It's 1 to 1 or linear growth.

As for length, the conductivity is an intrinsic measure, so length is somewhat irrelevant. However as a matter of practicality, on a large scale, the longer a path a given set of electrons have to travel, the more collisions will occur and thus the greater number of energy dispersals will occur and thus a greater amount of waste-heat. So you get an effectively greater measurement of resistance the longer the wire. This too is linear..

But length is usually a function of practical design (gotta connect two geographically distinct items).. Width, on the other hand is often a function of technology (how small can I make it) AND because width directly affects conductivity (gotta be wider to conduct more electrons), the intrinsic conductivity of the material dictates that for a given requirement of current and voltage, you must have a certain width for a given material.

However, not all geometries are created equally. The shape of the material, (which includes the curvature.. gentle curves v.s. right angles) affects the electro-static properties of the material. Indeed the mean-free-path to collision is different around the edges/boundries of a material, so obviously curved wire will have different properties than straight wire. Likewise the type of material adjacent to the conductor dramatically affects it's properties.

So to your original statement about water.

A) Water is a naturally polarized particle, so it can easily support attraction of free electrons.
    Ionized water (e.g. salt-water) has even greater electron attraction
B) Water is anamorphic (non structured, and constantly moving), so the mean-time-to-collision is pretty short.. This restricts conductivity significantly.
C) Water is not naturally ionized - it doesn't give off a free electron in it's natural state at room-temperature, so there are very few actual electrons available to conduct. Salt, on the other hand DOES give off a free electron when ionized in water. Likewise acids are ionized giving off free electrons. Thus lead-acid batteries use water with lots of free electrons, and thus conduct electricity reasonably well. Note that it's the storage of electrons, not the conductivity of electrons that makes these batteries useful. In fact the collisions due to high current conduction heats up the water.. This is how car batteries can explode, and this is why you should never open up the battery ports immediately after a car has been running for a long time.

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (1)

cyfer2000 (548592) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804762)

plastics conduct by big PI bond [wikipedia.org] , water conducts by ions moving in water, ceramics conduct by motion of charged defects and ions.

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (1)

dapsychous (1009353) | more than 7 years ago | (#16806910)

Ok, here's today's chemistry lesson:

Dig out your periodic table and take a look. Carbon, (C,6) is in the upper-right section of the table, to the right of the zig-zag line that determines whether a given element is a metal, non-metal, or transitional element. Carbon conducts electricity under certain circumstances, as do silicon (Si, 14), phosphorus (P, 15), germanium (Ge, 32), and arsenic (As, 33); none of which are metals (silicon, germanium, and arsenic are a transitional elements that exhibit properties of both metals and non-metals, and while some groups of thought place them as a metals, most refer to them as a transitional elements, which are neither metals, nor non-metals). Even some of the noble gases such as Neon (Ne, 10) and Argon (Ar, 18) can be made to conduct electricity under certain circumstances, which is how a neon light works. By definition a metal is any element, even Hydrogen (H,1) when in the solid phase, that exists left of the line (I can't remember the name of the line offhand). A metal exhibits certain properties: It is malleable (can be hammered into shape without breaking), ductile (can be pulled into wires), it conducts electricity, and exhibits metallic bonding when in the presence of other metal atoms (The nuclei remain relatively stationary, while a tide of electrons flows freely from one atom to the next, which is responsible for a metal's conductivity).

Therefore, while all metals conduct electricity, not everything that conducts electricity is a metal; in the same way that all beagles are dogs, but not all dogs are beagles.

Salt water conducts electricity, even with low current and voltage. This is due to the ionization of the chlorine and sodium atoms, and not the fact that sodium is a metal. When dissolved in water, the ions separate and, in fact, the negatively charged NON-METALLIC chlorine atoms are responsible for the conductivity.

It's been a few years since chemistry class, so if I got something wrong or omitted something, please correct me.

Re:Don't let random people write science articles (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16810920)

All elements heavier than hydrogen and helium are metal! </astronomy>

When nanotubes get backed up... (0, Redundant)

FractalZone (950570) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803032)

Does Ted Stevens provide plumbing service for Intel nanoproducts? He's the tube expert! He must know all about these exotic nanotube thingies...

Move along folks, there's nothing to see here (1)

liegeofmelkor (978577) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803038)

I fail to see what the fuss is about. A quick search of Web of Knowledge (for those of you with access to online periodicals) gives several abstracts where connections were formed with carbon nanotubes and the electronic properties were studied. To throw around buzzwords, how do you think researchers already knew about this "ballistic conductivity" before Intel made these interconnects? Unless the Intel results indicate how to fabricate these interconnects in bulk, there's absolutely nothing worth talking about. The real bottleneck, as the article describes, is finding a way to sort the little guys. There isn't a standard technique (yet) to efficiently separate large quantities of the semiconducting and metallic tubes, or to separate the tubes by size. If either or both of of these advancements are made, those findings will be worth all the hype! Making an electrical connection with a single walled carbon nanotube is nothing new, and shouldn't be given any special note.

Re:Move along folks, there's nothing to see here (1)

Joseph_Daniel_Zukige (807773) | more than 7 years ago | (#16812122)

Well, if I recall correctly, it means that iNTEL is hot on IBM's heels, or maybe a year behind or so in nanotubes.

Maybe my memory is bad, though.

Re:Move along folks, there's nothing to see here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16829426)

The real bottleneck, as the article describes, is finding a way to sort the little guys. There isn't a standard technique (yet) to efficiently separate large quantities of the semiconducting and metallic tubes, or to separate the tubes by size. If either or both of of these advancements are made, those findings will be worth all the hype!
http://www.nature.com/nnano/journal/v1/n1/abs/nnan o.2006.52.html/ [nature.com]
This article describes how you can separate carbon nanotubes by diameter, bandgap, and electronic type. Maybe you should do a little more searching before making statements like that.

The tubes jokes.... (1, Redundant)

DittoBox (978894) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803116)

I'll get mod'd down for this, but I don't care, it has to be said.

Is it just me or are these tubes jokes just getting old and stale? They were funny for the first few months, but now they're just predictable.

Stop mod'ing them as funny, they aren't anymore. There's very little humor value in a 3 month old joke, that gets told -invariably- everyday, on at least one story. Ted Stevens is a tool. His explanation was stupid, but it wasn't that funny...at least not this long after he'd made it.

Re:The tubes jokes.... (1)

liegeofmelkor (978577) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803214)

There's very little humor value in a 3 month old joke, that gets told -invariably- everyday, on at least one story.

You must be new here!

(Notice: The joke itself illustrates the funnyness of old jokes; the funniness being completely invalidated by this note. Great Success!)

Re:The tubes jokes.... (1)

bersl2 (689221) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803472)

Would you consider it hypocrisy that your own sig is a minor modification on an old and stale joke? Or is there something special about the average person's ignorance displayed in the "10 kinds of people" joke over the politician's ignorance in the "tubes" gag that I don't know about?

Then again, it is in your sig, and anything goes in sigs.

Re:The tubes jokes.... (1)

Legion303 (97901) | more than 7 years ago | (#16805750)

"Ted Stevens is a tool."

Tool...or prescient genius? You won't be calling him a tool when the internets really are comprised of tubes, sir!

Re:The tubes jokes.... (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 7 years ago | (#16806344)

Is it just me or are these tubes jokes just getting old and stale?


Yes, they are, but the important thing is that they are doing their job: crowding out the last of the "overlords" jokes. (and I, for one, look forward to a glorious overlords-free Slashdot)

Ted Stevens, redux (1, Redundant)

d_jedi (773213) | more than 7 years ago | (#16803124)

A processor is not something you just dump something on. It's not a big truck. It's a series of (nano)tubes! And if you don't understand that these tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your program in, it gets in line and it's going to be delayed by any process that puts into that tube enormous amounts of instructions, enormous amounts of instructions.

Retro-paradigm for nano-tube processors (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804650)

Can we go back to spaghetti code? The Noodly One will be pleased!

Why would you want nanotubes? (0, Redundant)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 7 years ago | (#16804706)

Wouldn't smaller tubes make your internets go slower? Hope the mods see my isajoke flag waving.

Re:Why would you want nanotubes? (1)

BronsCon (927697) | more than 7 years ago | (#16810430)

Only redundant if you have all day to read slashdot. If you have 15 minutes in the morning to read anything interesting on slashdot, you, much like myself, probably didn't see another tubes comment. Someone should take your modpoints.

is that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804740)

Is that a nanotube in your pocket, or are you just not happy to see me?

nanotubes: price? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16804800)

well... what do you mean by "carbon nanotubes"?...

it shurely is a great tecnology, which will be very important in the future, but for now, it has no practical use, because they're too expensive. at least the one i'm going to talk about.

the best nanotube is made of fullerene [wikipedia.org] , but it actually costs too much to be used...
the cool part of the fullerene is that it is stronger than the diamond, and if you accellerate a single C84 till 350km/s (tha max we can) against an other C84, they will just bounce!

actually the costs depends on the fullerene type, C60, C70 or C84.
in 2004 and before, were produced a total of more than 5000 kg of C60, little more than 220 kg of C70 and only 10 kg of C84... the costs?
20-20 /g for the C60, 250 /g for C70 and more than 2000 /g for the C84. it is just too expensive for now.

Re:nanotubes: price? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16805140)

sorry, slashdot doesn't show the euro symbol :p
it was "20-20 euro/g for the C60, 250 euro/g for C70 and more than 2000 euro/g for the C84"

Re:nanotubes: price? (1)

funwithBSD (245349) | more than 7 years ago | (#16805544)

First, how much would a chip really use? Likely less than a tenth of a gram, but that is a SWAG. Certianly less than a gram unless the process is wasteful.

Second, it is likely initially for supercomputing or network superswitches, where price is less of an issue.

Third, if they up the demand, more will be made and the price should come down.

Pipes! A 21st century difference engine (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 7 years ago | (#16805174)

Now if we can only mass produce a 21st century way to generate the steam.

Isn't IBM doing the same thing too? (1)

macmills (923666) | more than 7 years ago | (#16811126)

At the Wired Nextfest show back in September, IBM showcased some of their nano tech and carbon nano tubes were also on display. They're also looking into ways of producing these things in mass quantities and I think that they're a little ahead of intel in the research aspect right now. IBM can actually create tubes in different shapes and that's a step up on the competition.
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