Hiawatha Bray, writing in the Boston Globe, link above, has a great story about IBM research on display at this week's Nanotech 2006 conference in Boston. Building on decades of basic research, Thomas Theis at IBM is developing nanotubes to use on computer microchips that avoid the problems encountered as silicon chips become ultra tiny. Smaller means faster in microchips, but silicon "leaks" energy and heat as it becomes very small. Carbon nanotubes replace the silicon and allow engineers to create very tiny microchips (and other things, too!) that speed up computer functions and efficiency. The problem now becomes how to see what you are doing when you design the darned things! Apparently they are expecting a real market date about fifteen years in the future.
If you want to read more about carbon nanotubes, which are truly ultima-cool things, you can see this 2002 C/Net news story, which is up-date-able link here. I include this even though it's old because it has terrific links and illustrations and very good explanations about a complex subject. And here is a link to a 2004 Science Daily News link for a more recent story. This also has some good information, though not as stellar as the C/Net story.
Image from IBM Research Lab at http://www.research.ibm.com/nanoscience/