IBM's new graphene-based circuit is 10,000 times better than existing options

Chips with graphene inside are theoretically quicker than plain silicon designs, but they’ve been slow in practice; the manufacturing process often damages the graphene, stripping away its speed advantage. That won’t be a big problem with IBM’s prototype radio receiver, though. The company inserted graphene transistors into the new chip only after it finished assembling the mostly silicon design, keeping the more exotic material intact.

IBM researchers have created a graphene-based circuit that they say performs 10,000 times better than existing options; It was reliable enough that they used it to send and receive a text message. They plan to publish their work in Nature Communications today. Graphene is an atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms renowned for its strength and conductivity. It is heralded as a possible alternative to silicon, which currently dominates electronics production. One of the major potential applications for graphene is transistors, which control the flow of electricity in circuits. The more transistors you can fit onto a chip, the more powerful it can be. Researchers should be able to pack far more atom-thick graphene transistors into a chip than the bulkier silicon alternative. Graphene also transports electricity 200 times faster than silicon.

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