IBM announced it has created the first carbon nanotube integrated circuit, showing that one day it will be possible to use carbon nanotubes for commercial devices.
Researchers created a ring oscillator out of a nanotube. An oscillator switches between two voltage levels, which represent 1 and 0; they are often used as test vehicles by chip designers. While the oscillator is slower than the equivalent of those made of silicon, the device and subsequent other nanotube circuits will allow IBM and others to more acutely study how nanotubes operate in certain circumstances.
IBM made nanotube transistors before, but an integrated circuit is more complicated. Transistors are essentially on-off switches, while an integrated circuit is a collection of transistors that work together to perform a function. The IBM scientists will now use the ring oscillator to test improved carbon nanotube transistors and circuits, and to gauge their performance in complete chip designs.