David Kirkpatrick

September 8, 2008

Is graphene going to be the new semiconductor?

Filed under: Science, Technology — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 10:22 pm

Here’sa report from PhysOrg on graphene replacing semiconductors in the next generation computer chip:

When one looks at the structure of graphite, stacked layers of pure carbon are apparent. However, it wasn’t until 2004 that a process sophisticated enough to “slice” off one of the layers was discovered. This single layer is called graphene. Graphene is basically a sheet of bonded carbon atoms, with the thickness of only one atom. If one could look down at graphene from the top, one would observe that the sheet bears a strong resemblance to honeycomb, with its hexagons fitted snugly together.

“Graphene behaves almost like semiconductor but without a energy gap,” Kim explains. This is why it would do well as a material for computer chips. “When you apply an electric field perpendicular to graphene, the number of electrons – the carrier density – can be tuned.”

“One of the main themes is how fast the charge can move in graphene,” Kim continues. “Higher mobility means electron conducts faster in the system. It has always been speculated that the mobility of graphene can be quite high. But it has not been shown as high as some of the highest semiconductors in the past.”