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article imageNanotech: Graphene transistors possess terahertz potential

By Gordon K. Chan     Feb 6, 2010 in Technology
Nano-scientists at IBM have produced a graphene transistor that operates at the speed of 100 GHz, ten times faster than the fastest silicon. It is expected that terahertz performance is achievable.
In a showdown likened to a drag race, graphene transistors performed at blazing speeds that left silicon far behind.
The transistor is the building block of electronics, and graphene has revealed itself as the exciting heir-apparent to silicon technology.
Superlatives in an IBM paper such as "thinnest", "fastest" and "smallest" were used to describe graphene, a nano-material that is considered an enabler of the new generation of electronics.
Reported earlier in Digital Journal, IBM has been exploring the potential of the exciting one atom thick carbon material. Recent prototyping news from a MIT publication continue to impress.
Historically, faster transistors have been manufactured with exotic semiconducting materials such as indium phosphide (InP). The downside to this product is the high cost and continuous cooling requirements.
From this standpoint, Graphene is much more robust, with high heat tolerances and is believed by experts to offer better performance potential, with operational speeds of up to a terahertz. More impressively, it can do so at room temperature.
The first benefactor of graphene technology will be the military. IBM's research is supported by the Department of Defense and military high-tech carbon electronics are expected.
Commercially, the next steps are to further reduce the nano-size of graphene transistors. Researchers assure that, even at the atomic scale, it will get smaller. Other considerations are performance related as insulation properties will need to improve to ensure that short-circuits are corrected.
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