IBM has created graphene transistors that leave silicon ones in the dust. The prototype devices, made from atom-thick sheets of carbon, operate at 100 gigahertz--meaning they can switch on and off 100 billion times each second, about 10 times as fast as the speediest silicon transistors.
The newly announced transistor is more than three times smaller than the 32 nanometer transistors at the cutting edge of silicon-based electronics.
"It’s molecular electronics with the standard top-down approach which can be used in any semiconductor factory," said KostyaNovoselov, a researcher at the University of Manchester and a co-author of a new paper on the transistor in the journal Science.
Transistors form the logic gates that underpin computing. Finding new ways to make them smaller is key to the continuation of Moore’s Law, which holds that the number of transistors on a chip will double every two years. That doubling translates into performance gains for computers. While expected improvements to processes and materials, namely silicon, seem likely to keep the law going for the next ten years, even Gordon Moore questions technology’s ability to keep pace after that.
This new transistor may extend Moore’s Law for a while longer.
The transistor is made out of graphene, a new material exactly one-atom thick that was discovered by Novoselov’ s research team in 2004.
Made of intricately linked carbon atoms, graphene has the ability to retain several important properties when only one atom thick — most importantly conductivity
When current silicon transistor technology goes below 10 nanometers in size, it’s predicted it will run into the laws of physics and will no longer be able to create reliable transistors.
Graphene, on the other hand, is already seeing working transistors in the sub-10 nanometer range. The researchers say their latest, unpublished work has used graphene to make transistors a single nanometer across.
"From the point of view...