LONDON – Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) have discovered a semiconductor that can be created from graphene.
Graphene, crystalline carbon in the form of a single sheet of atoms, is widely tipped to impact electronics because it offers higher electron mobility than materials used in silicon-based transistors. However, up until now graphene and its derivatives have only existed as conductors and insulators.
The team at UWM has produced a derivative with oxygen atoms included within the hexagonal carbon-ring structure that characterizes graphene which they are calling graphene monoxide (GMO). The existence of the semiconducting derivative could help advance an era of carbon-based nanoscale electronics, the university said.
The team discovered GMO while researching the behavior of a hybrid nanomaterial comprising carbon nanotubes with attached tin-oxide nanoparticles that was being investigated for use as a sensor.
Professors Junhong Chen, Marija Gajdardziska, Carol Hirschmugl collaborated on microscopy techniques to investigate carbon surfaces and to try and synthesize graphene from graphene oxide (GO) a multilayer insulator.
However, in one experiment where they were heating GO in a vacuum to drive off the oxygen the researchers found that layers of GO became aligned and formed GMO. The proportion of oxygen included can be varied and at different high temperatures, the team has produced four materials that they collectively refer to as GMO.
The team is continuing to research the material to find its robustness and how easy it might be to scale up its manufacture.
I agree with the view that we need to use silicon more efficiently.
However, in 20 years time, scarce industrial metals such as gallium and indium will no longer be available for manufacturing semiconductors.
We will need replacement technologies that are based on more commonly available materials, and whose supply will not be exhausted before the end of the 21st century.
Sustainability pressures - not the ideal march of "progress" or the marketplace - are what will drive the development of much new technology of the future, including new semiconductors.
We have enough "technology for the sake of technology" as it is. If anything, we need to begin simplifying our high tech, industrial paradigm.
Ironic that as a carbon-based life-form we ignored the potential of carbon-based electronics for so long!
There is a pressure to retire Si but I don't think it is dead, we just need to cut down software bloat and use the high-grade silicon fabs we have already, maybe even go back a generation to toughen it up a little.
Concentrate on using silicon smarter, better architectures, better system-level thinking, lass wasteful attitudes.
Let the researchers pursue other technologies, but in the meantime let's reap the benefit of the last decades' work and get something done with current Si technology instead of throwing it away before we have even worked out half the things it can do.
Progress is inevitable, but the pace of progress is our decision.
Researches related to Graphene are moving in really fast pace. How soon all those foundries need to rebuild themselves to adopt to the latest technology? It may be too soon for TSMC. Yet, I am sure Applied Material is paying attention to how the researches go.