Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New Material Could Lead To Faster Chips: Graphene May Solve Communications Speed Limit

Date:
March 30, 2009
Source:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Summary:
New research findings could lead to microchips that operate at much higher speeds than is possible with today's standard silicon chips, leading to cell phones and other communications systems that can transmit data much faster.

The graphene microchip.
Credit: Photo / Donna Coveney

New research findings at MIT could lead to microchips that operate at much higher speeds than is possible with today's standard silicon chips, leading to cell phones and other communications systems that can transmit data much faster.

The key to the superfast chips is the use of a material called graphene, a form of pure carbon that was first identified in 2004. Researchers at other institutions have already used the one-atom-thick layer of carbon atoms to make prototype transistors and other simple devices, but the latest MIT results could open up a range of new applications.

The MIT researchers built an experimental graphene chip known as a frequency multiplier, meaning it is capable of taking an incoming electrical signal of a certain frequency — for example, the clock speed that determines how fast a computer chip can carry out its computations — and producing an output signal that is a multiple of that frequency. In this case, the MIT graphene chip can double the frequency of an electromagnetic signal.

Frequency multipliers are widely used in radio communications and other applications. But existing systems require multiple components, produce "noisy" signals that require filtering and consume large power, whereas the new graphene system has just a single transistor and produces, in a highly efficient manner, a clean output that needs no filtering.

The findings are being reported in a paper in the May issue of Electron Device Letters and were also reported last week at the American Physical Society meeting by Tomαs Palacios, assistant professor in MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a core member of the Microsystems Technology Laboratories. The work was done by Palacios along with EECS Assistant Professor Jing Kong and two of their students, Han Wang and Daniel Nezich.

"In electronics, we're always trying to increase the frequency," Palacios says, in order to make "faster and faster computers" and cellphones that can send data at higher rates, for example. "It's very difficult to generate high frequencies above 4 or 5 gigahertz," he says, but the new graphene technology could lead to practical systems in the 500 to 1,000 gigahertz range.

"Researchers have been trying to find uses for this material since its discovery in 2004," he says. "I believe this application will have tremendous implications in high-frequency communications and electronics." By running several of the frequency-doubling chips in series, it should be possible to attain frequencies many times higher than are now feasible.

While the work is still at the laboratory stage, Palacios says, because it is mostly based on relatively standard chip processing technology he thinks developing it to a stage that could become a commercial product "may take a year of work, maximum two." This project is currently being partially funded by the MIT Institute for Soldier Nanotechnology and by the Interconnect Focus Center program, and it has already attracted the interest of "many other offices in the federal government and major chip-making companies," according to Palacios.

Graphene is related to the better-known buckyballs and carbon nanotubes, which also are made of one-atom-thick sheets of carbon. But in those materials, the carbon sheets are rolled up in the form of a tube or a ball. While physicists had long speculated that flat sheets of the material should be theoretically possible, some had doubted that it could ever remain stable in the real world.

"In physics today, graphene is, arguably, the most exciting topic," Palacios says. It is the strongest material ever discovered, and also has a number of unsurpassed electrical properties, such as "mobility" — the ease with which electrons can start moving in the material, key to use in electronics — which is 100 times that of silicon, the standard material of computer chips.

One key factor in enabling widespread use of graphene will be perfecting methods for making the material in sufficient quantity. The material was first identified, and most of the early work was based on, using "sticky tape technology," Palacios explains. That involves taking a block of graphite, pressing a piece of sticky tape against it, peeling it off and then applying the tape to a wafer of silicon or other material.

But Kong has been developing a method for growing entire wafers of graphene directly, which could make the material practical for electronics. Kong and Palacios' groups are currently working to transfer the frequency multipliers to these new graphene wafers.

"Graphene will play a key role in future of electronics," Palacios says. "We just need to identify the right devices to take full advantage of its outstanding properties. Frequency multipliers could be one of these devices."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "New Material Could Lead To Faster Chips: Graphene May Solve Communications Speed Limit." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 March 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090324081443.htm>.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2009, March 30). New Material Could Lead To Faster Chips: Graphene May Solve Communications Speed Limit. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090324081443.htm
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "New Material Could Lead To Faster Chips: Graphene May Solve Communications Speed Limit." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090324081443.htm (accessed July 22, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

Government Approves East Coast Oil Exploration

AP (July 18, 2014) — The Obama administration approved the use of sonic cannons to discover deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through waters shared by endangered whales and turtles. (July 18) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Sunken German U-Boat Clearly Visible For First Time

Newsy (July 18, 2014) — The wreckage of the German submarine U-166 has become clearly visible for the first time since it was discovered in 2001. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Obama: U.S. Must Have "smartest Airports, Best Power Grid"

Reuters - US Online Video (July 17, 2014) — President Barak Obama stopped by at a lunch counter in Delaware before making remarks about boosting the nation's infrastructure. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

Crude Oil Prices Bounce Back After Falling Below $100 a Barrel

TheStreet (July 16, 2014) — Oil Futures are bouncing back after tumbling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May yesterday. Jeff Grossman is the president of BRG Brokerage and trades at the NYMEX. Grossman tells TheStreet the Middle East is always a concern for oil traders. Oil prices were pushed down in recent weeks on Libya increasing its production. Supply disruptions in Iraq fading also contributed to prices falling. News from China's economic front showing a growth for the second quarter also calmed fears on its slowdown. Jeff Grossman talks to TheStreet's Susannah Lee on this and more on the Energy Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) report. Video provided by TheStreet
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins