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Graphene transistor roundup

Phaedon Avouris, winner of the Feynman Prize in 1999, is head of the nanoscale science and technology group At IBM, which has recently reported significant advances in synthesizing transistors from graphene using conventional lithography methods.

IBM Demonstrates Graphene Transistor Twice as Fast as Silicon

Graphene transistors promise 100GHz speeds

Graphene Transistors that Can Work at Blistering Speeds

Big Blue demos 100GHz chip

Nanoclast interviews Avouris

and the Science paper,

100-GHz Transistors from Wafer-Scale Epitaxial Graphene

What does this all mean?  Basically, they have overcome a couple of substantial hurdles on the way to a carbon-based electronics, namely the bandgap issue and the ability to fab at wafer scale.  They still have a way to go: they need to bring gate length down by a factor of 10 or so to be in the range of silicon, and probably a few more hurdles and a lot of just plain legwork as well.  But if the research goes through to development, and the development goes through to manufacturing, we’ll have chips that are about two-and-a-half times as fast as the corresponding ones in silicon.

The bottom line, for my money, is that Moore’s Law is safe (in the sense that it will continue to hold true) for another decade at least.  I don’t see this as being a huge spike ahead of Moore’s Law, since graphene has a lot of catch-up to play, but in the long run it probably has more upside potential in speed and size, especially if/when they can get those nanoribbons atomically precise.

One Response to “Graphene transistor roundup”

  1. Eric Williams Says:

    Very exciting stuff, the carbon transition certainly looks more feasible in the short term now…thanks for the great link roundup. It seems like the cost of mass-producing graphene (with enough purity) is the next major hurdle, since the scaling down in size seems inevitable. One of those links quotes 1thz switching speeds as possible after a reduction in size to < 35nm. This may sound like a lot, but current MOSFETS switch upwards of 35ghz, and the limiting factor is interconnect speed (and heat), keeping cpu frequencies well under 5ghz.
    I wonder if we’ll need optical interconnects to take advantage of this increased switching speed, and if this and other high-bandwidth interconnect research will be more of a priority for semi-conductor companies, given the clearer path to carbon and the increased transistor frequencies that come with it.
    Also wondering about efficiency. Maybe this decrease in PDP and apparent lower transistor leakage will help stave off the necessity of reversible computing to continue Moore’s? J. Storrs Hall, do you have an opinion on this, and perhaps an estimate as to how much more efficient these graphene transistors might prove?

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