Graphene chips now a reality

Superfast Wi-Fi may soon be on
its way to all our homes, now that
researchers at IBM have managed
to create the first fully functioning
radio transmitter chip to be
built using the so-called ‘miracle
material’ graphene.
As it has outstanding electrical,
optical, mechanical and thermal
properties, graphene is less
expensive and more energy
efficient than the silicon that is
currently used in the construction
of computer chips. Furthermore,
chips made from the material
could potentially allow mobile
devices such as smartphones or
tablets to transmit data at much
higher speeds.
However, as graphene consists
of just a single layer of carbon atoms
bonded together in a honeycomb
structure, the material is also
extremely fragile. To get around
this problem, the team reversed the
usual manufacturing process and
placed the metal elements on the
chip before adding the graphene.
The resulting transmitter proved to
be 10,000 times faster than previous
attempts to build a graphene chip
had managed to produce.
“This is the first time that
someone has shown graphene
devices and circuits to [be capable
of performing] modern wireless
communication functions
comparable to silicon technology,”
said Supratik Guha, Director of
Physical Sciences at IBM’s Thomas
J Watson Research Center in
New York.


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