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Home > News > Carbon, Bacteria, and Fish Balls: The Machines of the Future

July 22nd, 2012

Carbon, Bacteria, and Fish Balls: The Machines of the Future

Abstract:
First discovered in 2010, graphene is essentially sheets of carbon measuring a single atom thick, and it can carry electric charges much faster than materials used in today's chips. Its discovery won the Noble Prize for two University of Manchester scientists, but we're still a long way from seeing it in commercial processors. Though graphene is wonderfully adept at conducting electricity, it doesn't work quite as well as a semiconductor -- which is essential to building transistors -- and it doesn't easily connect to other parts of a chip.

But we're closer than we were before. As reported by the BBC, the German and Swedish researchers have honed a new breed of graphene that's made using a substance called silicon carbide. Silicon carbide is basically a crystal made from silicon and carbon, and if you heat it up, the silicon atoms will rise up from the crystal, leaving a layer of graphene below.

What these researchers have done is develop a new way of etching electrical channels into the silicon carbide. Adding hydrogen to the etching process, they can change the way the silicon carbide crystal ties into the layer of graphene. They can make some parts of the material act as a conductor while others act as a semiconductor. This lets them build transistors, but it also means these transistors will more easily connect to other parts of a chip.

Source:
wired.com

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