Graphene is a one atom thick piece of carbon, and its very efficient conductive properties and nano-scale size would make it really useful as a replacement for copper connections on computer chips. The graphite in your pencil is made of lots and lots of graphene. The trick has been to make it in the one atom thickness. Saroj Nayak and other researchers at Rensselaer Institute have now done the research to show that the process of making graphene nanostructures is at least feasible.
The size of computer chips has
shrunk dramatically over the past decade, but has recently hit a
bottleneck, Nayak said. As copper interconnects get smaller, the
copper’s resistance increases and its ability to conduct electricity
degrades. This means fewer electrons are able to pass through the
copper successfully, and any lingering electrons are expressed as heat.
This heat can have negative effects on both a computer chip’s speed and
Researchers in both industry and academia are looking for
alternative materials to replace copper as interconnects. Graphene
could be a possible successor to copper, Nayak said, because of
metallic graphene’s excellent conductivity. Even at room temperature,
electrons pass effortlessly, near the speed of light and with little
resistance, through metallic graphene. This would almost ensure a
graphene interconnect would stay much cooler than a copper interconnect
of the same size.
Sounds great, if preliminary. Can I get rid of the cooling fan that sounds like a plane taking off anytime soon? That would be swell.