Graphene on Silicon Wafers  For Faster, Low Power Devices

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Graphene nanoribbons on silicon wafers

Graphene nanoribbons on silicon wafers could help lead the way toward super fast computer chips. Image courtesy of Mike Arnold

University of Wisconsin Scientists Deposit Graphene on Silicon

University of Wisconsin-Madison researchers are clost to fabricating computers that are much more power than current silicon technology. The researchers have invented a method to grow tiny ribbons of graphene directly on top of silicon wafers. Graphene is an excellent semiconductor and are easier to work with than graphene sheets.

PHD studen Vivek Saraswat states “Compared to current technology, this could enable faster, low power devices. It could help you pack in more transistors onto chips and continue Moore’s law into the future”.

Silicon chips infused with graphene could push back Moore's Law by dramitcally increasing the chip's performance while using less power.

Graphene expert professor Mike Arnold adds “The main advantage of graphene nanoribbons is that electrons can travel faster through them, compared to silicon so you can make faster chips that use less energy."

Professor Arnold's work with nanoribbons on germanium has help advance the growth onto silicon. Silicon is the most common material used in semiconductors. Germanium is not for many reasons including price and brittleness.

Professor Arnold's researchers have overcome a major issue growing graphene on silicon. When graphene is deposited onto silicon it becomes inert and less useful compound called silicon carbide. The researchers used a think layer of germanium to protect the graphene to protect the graphene and silicon to react while maintaining the nanoribbon's semiconductor advantages.

This research is an exciting first stop to making integrated circuits made of graphene using today's semiconductor equipment. Tooling is a big cost for any new material introduction. Thus the researchers work to integrate graphene with existiving semiconductor devices could make it to market faster than ever thought.

“We are using a few strategies to control the thickness and the orientation for the nanoribbons,” says Arnold. “We have a few really cool ideas.”