The writing is on the wall for the silicon chip. Transistors have been shrinking for the last half a century but they cannot get smaller forever. Most industry pundits think that the downscaling of silicon chip technology cannot extend much beyond 2026. The big question, of course, is what will replace it.
One possibility is graphene, which various teams around the world have used to make hugely fast transistors. Last year, one team clocked a graphene transistor at a cool 427 GHz. So you could be forgiven for thinking that graphene is the perfect silicon replacement.
Not so fast. There is a significant problem with graphene that makes it difficult to use in transistors– it has no band gap.
That means there is no energy range in graphene in which electron states cannot exist. Or in other words, it’s impossible to switch off graphene. And for a transistor, that spells serious trouble.
Today, Guanxiong Liu and pals at University of California, Riverside, say they’ve found a way round this that allows graphene transistors with no band gap to work in an entirely different way to conventional switches. “The obtained results present a conceptual change in graphene research and indicate an alternative route for graphene’s applications in information processing,” they say.To read more, click here.