03 Feb 2014

IBM graphene chip challenges silicon

IBM researchers have demonstrated a graphene microchip that is claimed to rival the performance of silicon chips and performs 10,000 times better than previous reported efforts.

The researchers hope the breakthrough heralds a new generation of cheap, high-speed wireless computers based on wafer-scale graphene integrated circuits.

"This is the first time that someone has shown graphene devices and circuits to perform modern wireless communication functions comparable to silicon technology," said Supratik Guha, director of physical sciences at IBM Research.

True integrated circuits based on graphene have been difficult to build because the material's nano-scale dimensions have meant that it could be easily damaged during fabrication.

In 2011, IBM built a proof-of-concept - an analogue graphene circuit with a broadband frequency mixer, but performance was poor owing to a lack of refinement in the manufacturing process.

Scientists have now developed a manufacturing method that fully preserves the transistor quality. Using this approach, they were able to demonstrate the most sophisticated graphene-based integrated circuit to date.

To showcase its true functionality, the researchers were able to use it to transmit a text message displaying the letters "I-B-M".

Research is published in Nature Communications

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