30 Jan '12, 7pm

Graphene: The Ultimate Switch

Graphene: The Ultimate Switch

Illustration: Bryan Christie Design Click on the image to enlarge. From the outside, transistors seem so simple and straightforward. But inside, they're actually a mess. If you could watch them working at the level of atoms, you'd see the electronic equivalent of a game of bumper cars. Electrons moving through even the best transistor channel can't go in straight lines. Instead they're buffeted continually by a host of imperfections and vibrations, which together put a strict limit on speed and generate a lot of heat in the process. The good news is that it doesn't have to be that way. By a quirk of quantum mechanics, electrons moving through atom-thick sheets of carbon—known as graphene—don't suffer much at all from these sorts of collisions. Instead, they behave like massless particles, speeding along in straight lines for long distances just like photons do. And just li...

Full article: http://spectrum.ieee.org/semiconductors/materials/graphen...

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