Improving speeds on devices is something that is always welcome by manufacturers and consumers as well. Some research is being conducted by IBM for this very purpose and they seem to have hit a jackpot with graphene.
Graphene was first discovered by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov at the University of Manchester. It was first produced in 2004. It is a type of carbon that is composed of one layer of carbon atoms. These atoms are joined in a hexagon shape that repeats itself. This makes it look like a honeycomb. It is such a thin material, a million types thinner than paper, that it is even considered two-dimensional.
Despite its thinness it is a very tough material. It is actually touted as the strongest material in the world and James Hone, a Columbia University mechanical engineering professor once said that it would even need the force applied by an elephant standing on a pencil to break it.
It is flexible, a good conductor and quite strong and can be very useful for various electronic uses. Compared to silicon it has better optical, thermal, electrical and mechanical abilities and this makes it more energy efficient and cheaper than silicon with regard to electronics.
The improvement of data applications has increased the importance of better mobile devices that are able to receive and transmit large amounts of information efficiently. Graphene is well suited for wireless devices, says IBM.
The small dimensions of this material make it a little difficult to make true integrated circuits because it could easily get damaged in the fabrication process. An analogue circuit was created in 2011 by IBM. It had a broadband frequency mixer but the transistor’s performance remained poor because the manufacturing process was not that refined.
More work has been done over the years to improve the prototype and it has paid off. A manufacturing method has been developed and it will be able to fully preserve the transistor. This method helped the scientists create the most sophisticated graphene integrate circuit ever to be done. They tested it by sending a text message that read “IBM”.
Other efforts at making graphene integrated circuits had been reported but this particular circuit gave 10,000 times better performance than the previous attempts. The researchers said that it is indeed a move in the direction of true graphene technology.
The advancement of this technology means that the prospect of cheaper, faster and more efficient wireless devices will become a reality very soon.