Intel's doing a bang-up job and shrinking transistors and packing them in tighter than ever before, but let's face it: it's going to be hard to scale silicon down much further. That eventual wall is why engineers are pumped about the potential of graphene, a substance with more than 200 times the electron mobility of silicon. (Read: better potential performance.) Coaxing graphene transistors into switching off current to create the 1 and 0 signals we know and love has been tricky, however. Now Samsung says it's developed a solution that does just that, without limiting graphene's electron mobility.
A handful of technological quandaries are keeping our small, yet powerful gadgets from becoming even smaller and powerful; one of those issues -- as any iPad or Asus Transformer Prime owner can tell you -- is heat dissipation. The copper technology found in most modern day doo-dads just ain't cutting it anymore. Fortunately, an NC State researcher has devised a new way to cool down hot electronics 25 percent faster than existing technology -- and at a lower price, to boot.
Some of the biggest breakthroughs in future tech revolve around some of the smallest materials on Earth. Even calling these technologies "micro" is magnitudes of measure larger than their actual tiny sizes. From the nano-scaled heat transfer of Nanowick Cooling down to the single atomic-level of Graphene and Quantum Computing, our white papers will help you wrap your head around the maximum potential of these miniscule technologies.
Researchers at IBM have announced that they recently managed to create the first high-speed computer circuits out of a material called graphene. This process has possible applications in displays, processors, and high-speed communication. While this advancement is interesting, we’re not quite ready to ditch traditional transistors quite yet.
File this one away for the future: graphene transistors. Graphene makes use of carborn rather than silicon, and transistors produced from it are capable of operating at 100 gigahertz, or about ten times faster than the fastest silicon transistors. And IBM has figured out a way to make production of these little beauties commercially feasible.
Graphene transistors aren’t new. But the methods for making them are clumsy and inefficient. For example, sheets of graphene would be flaked away from graphite--a tricky process at best. And it could only produce transistors with speeds up to 26 gigahertz.
IBM has devised a method for ‘growing’ graphene transistors on the surface of a two-inch silicon carbide wafer. The wafter is heated until the silicon evaporates, leaving behind a thin layer of epitaxial graphene, from which a transistor is produced. In addition, IBM improved the process by using better materials for parts of the transistor, such as the insulator.
Speedier transistors translate into speedier computing. Graphene transistors, therefore, hold promise for bumping up hardware potential on motherboards and add-in cards. (Not CPUs, though--graphene won’t work for CPUs.) While things will get speedier, for us it won’t be right away. Projected first applications will be in military devices. After that, maybe, graphene transistors will work their way into consumer electronics.
Chances are you've heard of graphene transistors before, and that's because the technology's touted as capable of one day replacing silicon. IBM Research has just overcome one of the biggest roadblocks in getting to that point, who claims to have opened a "bandgap" for carbon-based graphene field-effect transistors (FETs),
"Graphene doesn't naturally have a bandgap, which is necessary for most electronic applications," said IBM Fellow Phaedon Avouris. "But now we can report turnable electrical bandgaps of up to 130meV for our bi-layer graphene FETs. And larger bandgaps are certainly feasible."
Avrouis says this latest breakthrough swings the door wide open for the future use of graphen in digital electronics and optoelectronics devices.