NISKAYUNA, N.Y., July 7 -- GE Global Research, the centralized research organization of General Electric Co., announced today it has developed one of the best-performing diodes built from a carbon nanotube, which it said will enable smaller and faster electronic devices with increased functionality. The company said the nano-diode is one of the smallest functioning devices ever made.
Diodes are fundamental semiconductor devices that form the basic building blocks of electronic devices, such as transistors, computer chips, sensors and LEDs. Unlike traditional diodes, GE said, its carbon nanotube device has the ability for multiple functions -- as a diode and two different types of transistors -- which should enable it to both emit and detect light.
"Just as silicon transistors replaced old vacuum tube technology and enabled the electronic age, carbon nanotube devices could open a new era of electronics," said Margaret Blohm, GE's advanced technology leader for nanotechnology.
GE says its device comes very close to the theoretical limits of performance. Measured through the ideal diode equation eveloped by Nobel Laureate William Shockley, GE's new diode has an "ideality factor" very close to one, which is the best possible performance for a diode.
GE said one possible application is to use the device to build the next generation of advanced sensors that will have unsurpassed levels of sensitivity. For example, next-generation sensors in security applications could detect potential terrorist threats from chemical and biological hazards, even if they are present in extremely small quantities. This would enable enhanced security at airports, office buildings and other public areas.
The carbon nanotube diode was developed by Dr. Ji-Ung Lee, a scientist who works in the Nanotechnology Advanced Technology Program at the GE Global Research Center in Niskayuna, N.Y. More research is underway to enhance the carbon nanotube diode and increase the yield in the manufacturing process, but GE nanotechnology researchers said they believe this breakthrough could enable a variety of applications in computing, communications, power electronics and sensors.
The GE Nanotechnology Advanced Technology Program reported its discovery this week in the journal Applied Physics Letters.
For more information, visit: www.research.ge.com