MRS Bulletin


Progress in Carbon Nanotube Electronics and Photonics

Phaedon Avouris and Richard Martel


In electronics and photonics, intrinsic properties of semiconducting materials play a dominant role in achieving high-performance devices and circuits. In this respect, carbon nanotubes are prime candidates because of their exceptionally high carrier mobility, low capacitance, and strong optical response (direct bandgap). Although these properties compare very favorably with those of crystalline silicon, several issues related to their synthesis, processing, and assembly have challenged efforts for making electronic and photonic devices. Tremendous progress, nevertheless, has been achieved over the years, and much has been learned from novel photonic devices and electronic circuits. We review some of the developments in nanotube transistor performance optimization, ac operation, nanotube circuits, self-assembly, thin-film devices, and nanotube optical devices such as light emitters and detectors. We also examine the issues and opportunities that still exist.

Phaedon Avouris can be reached at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598, USA; and e-mail

Avouris is an IBM fellow and manager of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology at the T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, NY. He received his BSc degree at Aristotle University in Greece and his PhD degree in physical chemistry at Michigan State University in 1974. He did postdoctoral work at the University of California, Los Angeles, and was a research fellow at AT&T Bell Laboratories before joining the staff of IBM's Research Division at the Watson Research Center in 1978. His current research focuses on experimental and theoretical studies of the electronic and photonic properties of carbon nanotubes and graphene. Avouris has published more than 390 scientific papers and serves on the editorial boards of a number of journals and book series. He has been elected fellow of numerous institutions and has received many prestigious awards.

Richard Martel can be reached at the Universitë de Montrëal, Montrëal, Quëbec, Canada; and e-mail

Martel is an associate professor of chemistry at the Universitë de Montrëal and holds a Canada Research Chair on electroactive nanomaterials and interfaces. He received his PhD degree in physical chemistry in 1995 from the Universitë Laval in Quebec. After postdoctoral work at IBM from 1995 to 1997, Martel worked at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center as a research staff member in the Nanometer Scale Science and Technology group from 1998 until 2003. His early work in surface science focused on electronic excitations and dissociative electron attachment in molecules adsorbed on metal surfaces. His current research is on the properties of novel electronic nano-materials, such as carbon nanotubes, molecular nanostructures, and assemblies. His interests include the study of interfaces, carrier transport and injection in 1D, e-h recombination/separation, and energy transfer in electroactive nanostructures. Martel has published more than 95 technical papers and co-authored several patent applications. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and received two IBM outstanding achievement awards (2000, 2002) and one Research Division Award (2004) for breakthroughs in the field of nanotube electronics.