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New transistor design uses metal-semiconductor junction to preserve nanolayer's high electron mobility

Samsung Electronics Comp., Ltd. (KSC:005930), a South Korean firm perhaps best known for its smartphones and memory sticks, is among the companies racing to create transistors from graphene.  Graphene is a very special type of carbon, in which carbon atoms are sp2-bonded in repeating hexagonal units forming a one-atom thick sheet.

Graphene is highly conductive, which could lead to super-efficient transistors measuring just a few atoms wide.  But to create reliable, commercializable designs, researchers must find a way to get graphene to do a better job at shutting off current (as the transistor key function is to act as a switchable gate to the flow of electricity).  "Plain" graphene can not shut off current due to its semi-metallic nature.

Past-research has largely focused on making graphene into a semiconductor.  But that approach creates new issues, cutting the electron mobility from 200 times that of silicon, to much less than silicon -- a performance killer.

Companies are racing to implement graphene transistors. [Image Source: i09]

The Samsung design instead opts to use a special graphene-silicon Schottky barrier to halt the flow of electricity.  A Schottky barrier allows for a metal-semiconductor (or semi-metal-semiconductor) junction.  By keeping the graphene semi-metallic, the strong electron mobility is preserved.

Samsung calls its special graphene Shottky transistors "barristors" (a blend of "barrier" and "transistor").  It owns 9 patents on the technology.

Samsung transistor
Samsung calls its special graphen transistor a "barristor". [Image Source: Samsung]

On the recent refinements, published [abstract] in the prestigious Science journal, researchers at Samsung's Advanced Institute of Technology demoed basic processing.  The company writes:

In addition, to expand the research into the possibility of logic device applications, the most basic logic gate (inverter) and logic circuits (half-adder) were fabricated, and basic operation (adding) was demonstrated.

Now with the fundamentals in place Samsung must come up with the processes to mass-produce its barristors on the nanometer scale.  If it can do that, it could offer a unique advantage to its smartphones and to business partners like Apple, Inc. (AAPL) that rely on its chips.

Of course, other companies like Intel Corp. (INTC) and International Business Machines, Inc. (IBM) are also hotly pursuing graphene designs, so it's unlikely Samsung will be alone when this technology inally reaches the commercial stage.

Sources: Samsung, Science

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RE: Apple have a patent on that.
By Mint on 5/21/2012 9:41:56 AM , Rating: 2
If you're going to defend Apple as innovative, then you're going to have a hard time doing so by defining innovation by who comes up with an idea first.

The iPhone wasn't innovative for having the first touch screen, inventing multitouch, inventing the smartphone, etc. It's innovative because it put everything together at a time when the industry was heading in a different direction.

The Note is innovative in the same way. Jobs declared the stylus obsolete, and everyone followed. Samsung bucked the trend. The stylus is going to play a bigger role as apps get more complex and capable. I won't be surprised if I see a full-fledged copy of Win8 running on smartphones in a year capable of running any desktop app. Same thing with the display size, as the obvious intuition is that it's too big. They saw a new usage model and went after that market.

Apple probably skipped the stylus because they profit from a new marketplace of touch-based apps where iOS is dominant. They could have easily included a stylus in the iPad for flexibility while keeping touch the priority, but they want to force people away from it. The base of x86 apps is still the biggest threat to the long term future of the iPad (and even the iPhone), and it's a much smaller threat when people aren't used to the stylus (which is needed to replace the mouse required to use those apps as is).

RE: Apple have a patent on that.
By TakinYourPoints on 5/21/2012 4:59:05 PM , Rating: 2
They skipped the stylus simple because people don't like using them. Give someone the choice between a skinny little stylus or their finger, most will pick using their finger. What average person wants to fiddle with a stylus? Who even likes using a Wacom tablet on a desktop compared to a mouse?

Stylus are the domain of artists and not much else.

RE: Apple have a patent on that.
By Mint on 5/22/2012 12:56:34 PM , Rating: 2
You're making a strawman argument with that artificial choice.

Give a person a choice between touch-only and touch+stylus, and they'll choose the latter. Nobody wants to write with their finger when jotting notes, symbols, figures, etc. Nobody wants to repeatedly pinch zoom in, touch, and pinch zoom out when doing more complex tasks instead of simply tapping. Nobody wants their finger blocking their view when selecting ranges/groups or doing other fine control.

Touch-only is superior to stylus-only. It is not, however, superior to touch+stylus. Anyone who uses a pen on paper instead of finger doodling (i.e. everyone) will find use for a stylus as the smartphone becomes more powerful. Read that link.

Wacom tablets? Tablets and smartphones don't have a mouse, genius. The entire premise for their existence is to be as portable and self-contained as possible.

You're lacking the vision that your favorite company is famous for. You can't take functional notes in class with only a keypad, unless all your classes are strictly text only. Same thing in board meetings. Styli on tablets and smartphones are critical for the transition to a paperless society, which has numerous convenience and organizational benefits. I predict that within 3 years, virtually every tablet and many high-end smartphones will have a stylus.

"Young lady, in this house we obey the laws of thermodynamics!" -- Homer Simpson

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