Feeds

Boffins crack superconducting graphene's melting mystery

Next-gen high-speed transistors go 3D to slash leaks

The next step in data security

Scientists in Manchester appear to have solved a problem with graphene that has plagued the super-material's fans since it was sliced into being in 2004.

The breakthrough takes the wunder-material one step closer to being the new silicon, and powering a new wave of computers.

Graphene lattice, credit AlexanderAlUS, via Wikimedia

Graphene's incredible properties - including superconductivity - made it almost too conductive to work with computers. Graphene transistors packed densely in a computer chip leaked too much current and instantly caused the chip to melt.

Russo-British scientists Professor Andre Geim and Professor Konstantin Novoselov – who jointly won the 2010 Nobel Physics Prize for their work in graphene – seem to have got around that problem.

Their innovation was aligning the graphene atoms vertically rather than laterally (in plane) - moving into the third dimension. They used graphene as an electrode from which electrons tunnelled through a dielectric into another metal (a tunnelling diode). Then they exploited a truly unique feature of graphene – that an external voltage can strongly change the energy of tunnelling electrons. As a result they got a new type of a device – a "vertical field-effect tunnelling transistor" in which graphene is a critical ingredient.

"It is a new vista for graphene research and chances for graphene-based electronics never looked better than they are now," said Professor Novoselov. To make the transistors, the team came up with the idea of using a layer cake of atoms: layering graphene between atomic planes of boron nitride and molybdenum disulphide.

Dr Leonid Ponomarenko, who spearheaded the experimental effort, said: "We have proved a conceptually new approach to graphene electronics. Our transistors already work pretty well. I believe they can be improved much further, scaled down to nanometre sizes and work at sub-THz frequencies."

Earlier this week the British government announced a £50m grant aimed at keeping the UK as the leading research centre on graphene. Most of the funding will be focused in Manchester. ®

The research paper Field-Effect Tunneling Transistor Based on Vertical Graphene Heterostructures was published this week in Science.

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
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?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.