Monday, 08 February 2010 11:41

IBM sets graphene transistor record

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IBM researchers have created the world's fastest graphene transistor.

IBM researchers have demonstrated a graphene transistor capable of operating at up to 100GHz. This makes it the fastest transistor using this material.

Furthermore, the graphene transistor is more than twice as fast as a silicon transistor with the same gate length.

Where graphite and diamond (the two relatively common forms of carbon) have a three-dimensional structure, the carbon atoms that make up graphene are arranged in a two-dimensional hexagonal lattice.

This gives the substance unique electrical, optical, mechanical and thermal properties.

"A key advantage of graphene lies in the very high speeds in which electrons propagate, which is essential for achieving high-speed, high-performance next generation transistors," said T C Chen, vice president, science and technology, IBM Research.

"The breakthrough we are announcing demonstrates clearly that graphene can be utilised to produce high performance devices and integrated circuits," added Chen.

How did IBM improve the speed of graphene transistors? Please read on.



Graphene wafers can be formed using the same technology used for silicon. IBM researchers have demonstrated that this approach works at least as well as graphene extracted from natural graphite.

Central to the speed improvement achieved by IBM is the use of a polymer layer between the graphene and the oxide gate insulator. This prevents electrons in the graphene from being scattered by the oxide.

The nature of the material means graphene transistors are not suited to digital applications, and so the technology is unlikely to replace silicon as the bedrock of our computers and other digital devices.

The research, funded by the US government's DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) is aimed at the creation of analogue semiconductors for next-generation communications devices.



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Stephen Withers

Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

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