Graphene-Powered Super Transistors On the Way Thanks to British Breakthrough

By Sam Gibbs on at

Graphene, that single layer of carbon atoms that is the talk of wonder stuff, has just taken one massive step towards being useful and infused into your electronics. Scientists from Manchester have figured out that going 3D is the answer to graphene-infused transistors and super-speed computers.

An excited Professor Novoselov of Manchester University said:

"It is a new vista for graphene research and chances for graphene-based electronics never looked better than they are now.”

Our current silicon-based transistors are pretty good right now, but we’re quickly starting to hit the physical limits of size. Researchers created a new type of device, a vertical field-effect tunnelling transistor, by layering up graphene atoms vertically rather than laterally, sandwiched between atomic strips of boron nitride and molybdenum disulphide. The new way of constructing the transistors has avoided the current leak and melting problem that hindered graphene electronics up until now.

The problem was that when graphene-based transistors were packed together the current leakage caused the chip to overheat and melt – not exactly what you want in the heart of your computer or smartphone. Now manufacturers will be free to pack them in nice and tight, which should give your electronics both a speed and energy efficiency boost. Who doesn’t want to go faster with longer battery life eh?

Dr Leonid Ponomarenko, the lead researcher behind the study published in Science said:

"We have proved a conceptually new approach to graphene electronics. Our transistors already work pretty well. I believe they can be improved much further, scaled down to nanometre sizes and work at sub-THz frequencies."

Full speed ahead for graphene electronics with Britain leading the charge of the graphene revolution, aided by a recent £50 million grant that’s already being funnelled into British graphene research.

Now, how about turning that those mesmerising layers up there into something I can slap in my smartphone. We must be close now. I’m dreaming of a graphene-filled future with weeklong battery life and more processing power than today’s supercomputers packed into the palm of my hand. Honestly, I’d probably just settle for battery life longer than a day, but I can dream, right? [Science via The Register]

Image credit: Wikipedia