Graphene nanoribbons on silicon wafers could help lead the way toward super fast computer chips. Image courtesy of Mike Arnold.
Smaller, better semiconductors have consistently allowed computers to become faster and more energy-efficient than ever before.
But the 18-month cycle of exponential increases in computing power that has held since the mid 1960s now has leveled off. That’s because there are fundamental limits to integrated circuits made strictly from silicon—the material that forms the backbone of our modern computer infrastructure.
As they look to the future, however, engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are turning to new materials to lay down the foundations for more powerful computers.
They have devised a method to grow tiny ribbons of graphene—the single-atom-thick carbon material—directly on top of silicon wafers.