Graphene nanoribbons on silicon wafers could help lead the way toward super fast computer chips. Image courtesy of Mike Arnold
University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers are clost to fabricating computers that are much more power than current silicon technology. The researchers have invented a method to grow tiny ribbons of graphene directly on top of silicon wafers. Graphene is an excellent semiconductor and are easier to work with than graphene sheets.
Silicon chips infused with graphene could push back Moore's Law by dramitcally increasing the chip's performance while using less power.
Professor Arnold's work with nanoribbons on germanium has help advance the growth onto silicon. Silicon is the most common material used in semiconductors. Germanium is not for many reasons including price and brittleness.
Professor Arnold's researchers have overcome a major issue growing graphene on silicon. When graphene is deposited onto silicon it becomes inert and less useful compound called silicon carbide. The researchers used a think layer of germanium to protect the graphene to protect the graphene and silicon to react while maintaining the nanoribbon's semiconductor advantages.
This research is an exciting first stop to making integrated circuits made of graphene using today's semiconductor equipment. Tooling is a big cost for any new material introduction. Thus the researchers work to integrate graphene with existiving semiconductor devices could make it to market faster than ever thought.