Wednesday, 25 Jul, 2007 Technology

Computers of the Future to be Made from Pencil Trace


Researchers of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have conducted special experiments that could lead to a major discovery how to use graphene as a heir to copper and silicon presently used in nanoelectronics. Graphene represents a sheet of carbon that is just one-atom-thick . It was made by scientists in 2004 with the help of common clear adhesive tape bought in a store. Most pencils use graphite that is made up of many graphene-layers. The scientists used the tape's stickiness to break apart the layers.

The researchers are strongly interested in graphene as it displays extremely efficient conductive properties. For a long time, the researchers were running robust computer simulations and finally managed to demonstrate for the first time that graphene's conductive properties are directly influenced by its length and width.

During the experiments graphene proved to possess unique electrical properties with either semi-conducting or metallic behavior. The researchers discovered that graphene's length could be used for manipulating and tuning its energy gap determining whether the graphene is metallic or semi-conducting.

The research marked an important first step that could lead to metallic graphene's mass-production. The researchers hope that one day graphene will replace copper that now represents the major interconnect material on almost all computer chips.

The computer chips have become dramatically smaller in size over the past years. While copper interconnects become smaller, the material's resistance grows and results in degraded ability to conduct electricity. Consequently, fewer electrons manage to pass through the copper, and any remaining electrons turn into heat that negatively effects the speed and performance of a computer chip.

Industry and academia researchers hope to discover alternative materials that would replace copper as interconnects. Graphene could become copper's successor due to metallic graphene's perfect conductivity. When metallic graphene is heated just to room temperature, electrons pass through it at near the light speed and with almost no resistance. It means that a graphene interconnect would remain much cooler than a copper one of the same size.

The development of a graphene interconnect may take the scientists years of hard work, but the leading computer companies, such as IBM and Intel have already taken notice of the material. At this point, graphene has proved to have much potential to be used in interconnects and transistors. The scientists also believe that semiconductor graphene could one day replace silicon as the major semiconductor used in all computer chips.

Powered by

Add your comment:

antispam code