Feeds

UK researchers reveal room-temperature graphene transistor

You electrons - one at a time, please

The essential guide to IT transformation

Boffins at Britain's University of Manchester have created a transistor out of an atom-thick sheet of carbon. The high-speed device is so small only one electron can pass through at once. Crucially, the transistor operates at room temperature making it potentially viable for future microprocessors.

Details of the breakthrough were announced in the science journal Nature this week. The team, led by Professor Andre Geim of the Manchester Centre for Mesoscience and Nanotechnology, built the transistor from graphene, an allotrope of carbon that essentially fits all its constituent carbon atoms into a single plane. Discovered only three years ago, graphene is highly conductive.

The transistor itself is of a type known as the single-electron transistor. The controlling gate electrode is capacitively coupled to an electrode called the island, which sits between the source and the drain. At a certain voltage the island forms what's known as a Coulomb blockade, preventing an electron in the source quantum mechanically tunneling through to the island and then through to the drain. Apply a positive voltage to the gate, and the electron is free to pass from source to island to drain.

The single-electron transistor design is not only inherently very small, but the tiny voltages required to switch it on and off make it very sensitive, to the extent that it's seen as a possible fast yet low-power successor to today's chip transistors.

The single-electron transistor isn't a new design, but past attempts to create one have used more standard semiconductor materials, all of which have needed cooling to near absolute zero to operate. The graphene single-electron transistor operates at room temperature.

There's still some way to go to create a working chip from graphene single-electron transistors. Etching the transistor isn't a certain process - most attempts produce transistors that are too large to allow just one electron to pass through, and the process makes structural changes to the graphene around the transistor that can scatter electrons, the effect of which is not yet fully understood.

However, the research may well show how chip designers may continue their work once they have exceeded the limits of silicon.

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Apple's iWatch? They cannae do it ... they don't have the POWER
Analyst predicts fanbois will have to wait until next year
AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else
Chip maker claims the Radeon R9 285 is 'best in its class'
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Barnes & Noble: Swallow a Samsung Nook tablet, please ... pretty please
Novelslab finally on sale with ($199 - $20) price tag
Apple to build WORLD'S BIGGEST iStore in Dubai
It's not the size of your shiny-shiny...
Just in case? Unverified 'supersize me' iPhone 6 pics in sneak leak peek
Is bigger necessarily better for the fruity firm's flagship phone?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Scale data protection with your virtual environment
To scale at the rate of virtualization growth, data protection solutions need to adopt new capabilities and simplify current features.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?