A new process involving attaching molecules to semiconducting silicon may help electronics manufacturers to make smaller and more powerful microprocessors.
Researchers at Rice University and North Carolina State University believe the method could help manufacturers to defy Moore's Law, which states that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit doubles every two years.
However, Moore also said that the law cannot be sustained indefinitely.
"When silicon gets really small, down to the nanoscale, you get structures that essentially have very little volume," commented James Tour, professor of chemistry at Rice University.
"You have to put dopant atoms in silicon for it to work as a semiconductor, but now devices are so small you get inhomogeneities."
The study suggests that monolayer molecular grafting of carbon molecules will help to surmount this problem on the nanometre scale.
Rice University recently announced that a solar film process developed in its laboratory is at the root of a new energy technology that has drawn major government investment.