IBM Researchers Build Wonder Material Integrated Circuit Smaller than a Grain of Salt

Illustration for article titled IBM Researchers Build Wonder Material Integrated Circuit Smaller than a Grain of Salt

IBM researchers have created the first graphene-based integrated circuit constructed on a wafer of silicon, in a setup that's smaller than a grain of salt. The circuit is a broadband frequency mixer, which can operate up to a decent 10GHz.

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It's yet another advancement in the use of graphene—which, in case you forgot, is that fantastic, ultra-thin "wonder material" that won two scientists the Nobel prize for physics. Graphene is only one layer of (carbon) atoms thick—but despite its ultra-lightness, it's still nearly indestructible. Like, 200x stronger than steel and the strongest substance in the known universe kind of indestructible. But it's also flexible and its conductivity is 100x greater than silicon. So it's badass.

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Pretty soon, we could be seeing applications of graphene in high-bandwidth communication and low-cost smart phone and TV displays. But before now, researchers hadn't been able to make graphene adhere to other metals and oxides. IBM's researchers overcame this. They applied wafer-scale fabrication procedures that maintained its quality while letting it integrate with other components.

Compared to silicon, the graphene transistor could be less expensive, use less energy and significantly free up room in portable electronics and smart phones. [Science via MSNBC Cosmic Log]

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DISCUSSION

"Sucrose among other substances such as Plexiglas have been turned quickly and easily into graphene via application to a copper or nickel substrate and being subjected to 800 °C under low pressure with exposure to argon and hydrogen gas. The process takes only ten minutes and is scalable for industrial production. It also allows the manufacturer to modulate the purity of the graphene for applications that require electrical switching" - [wikipedia.org]

"Sweet"