Researchers at I.B.M. said Thursday that they’ve managed to create high-speed circuits from graphene, a nano-material that is almost transparent and is capable of coping with higher temperatures than the material in the current generation of silicon chips.The breakthrough is another step toward a general goal of ultimately creating transistors and integrated circuits made of the material.
IBM reported its breakthrough is the journal Science.
The advance is part of a global research race to develop the material for uses in everything from low-cost cell phones and television displays to military applications, reports the New York Times‘ John Markoff.
One promising application for graphene is in making new parts of the radio-frequency spectrum available for consumer electronics applications, said Richard Doherty, president of Envisioneering Inc., an industry consulting firm.
“It allows you to tame a spectrum that before was the wild, wild West,” he said. For example, it might make possible a new class of Wi-Fi-style communications gear for wireless applications, or allow set-top cable boxes to be redesigned to send and receive ever-larger amounts of high-resolution video and data.
Mr. Doherty added that display manufacturers were especially interested in graphene because the current wave of displays based on OLEDs, or organic light-emitting diodes, have limited lifespans.
The European Union, South Korea and Singapore all have major research efforts into graphene underway, he reports. The efforts underway in the United States are more modest. Part of I.B.M.’s research was funded by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Graphene is seen as an attractive material by manufacturers because it would be cheap to produce, and it’s tough.