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Graphene Transistors May Replace Silicon

Researcher’s around the world have been looking at ways to take advantage of graphene’s structural and electrical properties. Not only is graphene the strongest material known to man, but it has alot of potential for use in electrical devices. It could eventually replace silicon transistors.


IBM conducted the work on behalf of the U.S. Defense Department’s DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency), under a program to develop high-performance RF (radio frequency) transistors. A write-up of the results has been published in the Feb. 5 issue of Science.


In a paper published Sept. 1 in the journal Nature, a group of UCLA researchers demonstrate how they have overcome some of these difficulties to fabricate the fastest graphene transistor to date.


With the highest known carrier mobility — the speed at which electronic information is transmitted by a material — graphene is a good candidate for high-speed radio-frequency electronics. But traditional techniques for fabricating the material often lead to deteriorations in device quality.


The UCLA team, led by professor of chemistry and biochemistry Xiangfeng Duan, has developed a new fabrication process for graphene transistors using a nanowire as the self-aligned gate.


Yu–Ming Lin cautioned against thinking of graphene as a substitute for the silicon-based microprocessors used in today’s computers, at least at anytime in the near future. One major roadblock is that graphene does not work easily with discrete electronic signals, he explained.


Because graphene is a zero bandgap semiconductor, meaning there is no energy difference between its conductive and nonconductive states, transistors made of the semiconductor cannot be turned on and off. In contrast, silicon has a bandgap of one electron volt, making it good for processing discrete digital signals.

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