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Professor Andre Geim of The School of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Manchester

Dr. Kostya Novoselov of The School of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Manchester

Graphene-based transistor created by the University of Manchester team
The largest hurdle in semiconductor miniaturization has just been shattered

Using the world’s thinnest material, Graphene, researchers at the University of Manchester have created the world’s smallest transistor. According to Professor Andre Geim and Dr. Kostya Novoselov from The School of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Manchester, the new transistors are only one atom thick and less than 50 atoms wide. The development opens the gate to superfast computer chips at sizes not possible before with standard Silicon transistors.

According to the semiconductor industry roadmap, miniaturization of electronics will face its largest challenge in the next twenty years. This is because Silicon based technology will begin to reach its minimum size limit. 

Graphene, a form of carbon that is only one atom thick, may provide a solid alternative for even further miniaturization of electronics as silicon-based technology reaches its limit.

Graphene transistors were originally created two years ago, but at that time they were very “leaky” meaning current could not be turned off to zero. The “leaky” quality of the transistors effectively limited their uses, and rendered them useless for employment in computer chips and electronic circuits. But over the course of the past two years the research team at the University of Manchester was able to overcome this problem, and have created fully-functional and stable Graphene transistors.

Graphene transistors remain stable and conductive even when they are only a few nanometers wide. This is in contrast to all other known materials, including the dominant silicon transistors, which “oxidize, decompose and become unstable at sizes ten times larger.” This is the barrier that current silicon-based technology is approaching and is likely to also be its downfall.

"We have made ribbons only a few nanometers wide and cannot rule out the possibility of confining graphene even further - down to maybe a single ring of carbon atoms," says Professor Geim of the University of Manchester.

Graphene provides a solid alternative to Silicon and according to Geim can lead to even further reductions in size. Geim expects future electronic circuits to possibly be carved out of a single Graphenesheet.  

Dr Leonid Ponomarenko, who is leading this research at The University of Manchester, is optimistic of the technologies’ future.

"The next logical step is true nanometer-sized circuits and this is where graphene can come into play because it remains stable - unlike silicon or other materials - even at these dimensions."

Geim believes that Graphene is the only viable successor to Silicon after the currently dominant technology reaches its limit.  Graphene-based circuits, however, are not likely to be completely ready until 2025.


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RE: What I'm wondering is
By KernD on 3/2/2007 8:16:05 PM , Rating: 3
Carbon nanotube are a risk to your lungs health only, it acts like asbestos, which means lungs cancer and you die...

But that is only a problem if it gets in the air, but I don't think there is any of my processor's silicon or other components that gets in the air.


RE: What I'm wondering is
By mino on 3/3/2007 8:34:54 AM , Rating: 1
Also those "tubes" will be a part of something bigger and also prett small.

To chause cancer a tube has to be at a size scale of a cell. These thing will several prders of magnitude smaller...


RE: What I'm wondering is
By dogchainx on 3/3/2007 9:03:35 PM , Rating: 3
Incorrect. If the "tubes" had to be a scale size to that of a cell to cause cancer, then that would mean most everything that did cause cancer would have to be the scale size of a cell. Cancer can be caused by damage to DNA, which is a very long double helix, and is an order of magnitude smaller than cellular sizes. Its a molecule, and it looks like it can be damaged by "those tubes" which on on about the same scale. Damage to DNA information for controlling a cell's division and death cycle is the the main reason for cancer (if not the only reason for it...).

Its like saying running over a tree could cause a flat tire. Not really...but a sharp stick from a branch could.


RE: What I'm wondering is
By guwd1 on 3/7/2007 7:38:56 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Carbon nanotube are a risk to your lungs health only, it acts like asbestos, which means lungs cancer and you die...


Incorrect. Propper reasearch has yet to be made regarding nanotubes effect on other cells. It's likely dangerous for all cells because they are so small they can't be blocked out by the cell, it's slips through the cells barrier. Once inside the cell has to remove 'the foreign substance' by means of manufacturing and attaching other stuff onto the nanotube making the particle larger and thus handleable. In a general exposure scenario, most likely a non negliable amount of nanotubes enters the cell, the cell constantly has to dedicate valuable resorces to this task making it less capable of handling other important tasks. Think of the cell as a warrior, if it has to battle two evils/enemies simultaniously it's obviously more likely to fail, resulting in death/cancer/virus-infection/'who-knows'... as I said proper research has yet to be made, but it's mostly a matter of assessing risks and exploring the 'who-knows'-part afaik.


RE: What I'm wondering is
By guwd1 on 3/7/2007 7:50:20 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
But that is only a problem if it gets in the air, but I don't think there is any of my processor's silicon or other components that gets in the air.


I have no idea about that, but I think the major concerns are all the waste-nanotubes that accumulates in production facilities, and the fact that nanotube waste isn't well regulated by goverment/other yet since the risks aren't properly assessed. Is it ok to just throw the waste on the dump? Sippering out of a pile? Will the companies care if it could save them money? That's why some health officials are stressing that such reaserch be made so that good regulations and laws can be written. Let's hope they hurry-up cuz I sure wouldn't like to be the one working at such a companys manufacturing plant.


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