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Graphene for nanoelectronics

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have discoed that graphene can substitute copper and silicon in nanoelectronics.
Graphene, a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon of which graphite is the most common material is made up of countless layers of graphene. Researchers broke apart these layers and exploited the extremely efficient conductive properties for use in nanoelectronics. The length, as well as the width, of graphene directly impacts the material’s conduction properties. In the form of a long 1-D nanoscale ribbon, graphene demonstrates unique electrical properties that include either metallic or semi conducting behavior.
When short segments of this ribbon are isolated into tiny zero-dimensional (0-D) segments called “nanorectangles,” where the width is measured in atoms, they are classified as either “armchair” or “zigzag” graphene nanoribbons. Both types of nanorectangles have unique and fascinating properties. 1-D nanoribbons were trimmed the length down to a few nanometers, so the length was only a few times greater than the width. The lengths of the resulting zero-dimensional graphene nanorectangles had clear and distinct effects on the material’s properties.
Researchers used quantum mechanical simulations and predicted that the length of graphene may be used to manipulate and tune the material’s energy gap. This is so because energy gaps determine if the graphene is metallic or semi conducting.
Interconnect material
Major computer companies are already working on alternate the materials like carbon nanotubes as carbon nanotubes are essentially made of rolled-up graphene, with a potential to replace copper as the primary material used for interconnects. But they suffer from setbacks similar to those of graphene. Generally, when graphene is synthesized, there is a mix of metallic and semiconductor materials.
Researchers developed a way to mass produce metallic graphene that could one day replace copper which is the primary interconnects material on nearly all computer chips. But when copper interconnects are made smaller, the copper’s resistance increases and its ability to conduct electricity degrades to produce heat which will affect computer chip’s speed and performance. So graphene could be a possible better successor to copper because of metallic graphene’s excellent conductivity even at room temperature at the speed of light and with little resistance. Also graphene interconnect can stay much cooler than a copper interconnect of the same size.

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