New research out of the University of Manchester in Britain appears to herald the imminent creation of the Cylon race. It appears the structure for computer processors will switch from silicon to carbon, just like people, perhaps, eventually.
It's not news that graphene (carbon in sheets an atom thick) conducts electricity exceptionally well. But it needs to insulate as well, and until recently, it wasn't clear it could do the job. The university's research showed graphene can be modified to insulate. What does that mean? It means there can be electronics made entirely from carbon, silicon need not apply.
The semiconductor industry exploits the "whole periodic table" to manufacture its components, says Konstantin Novoselov at the University of Manchester, UK. "But what if a single material is modified so that it covers the entire spectrum needed for electronics?" Graphene could be that material, he says.
That would make it far simpler to build computers, TVs, all electronics, and make it connections nearly seamless, because they'd all be made from the same materials.
By adding hydrogen to the graphene and creating graphane, it can properly insulate the transistors. Graphene, it should be noted, allows electrons to "whiz through the layers at near the speed of light." Now that's fast-acting. If you consider the implications of electron mobility in microelectronics, that's a very good thing.
So the combination of graphene and graphane ends up enabling those who make electronic components to use one material and just change its chemistry as needed. Cylons rejoice... We'll take a 32-way processor in a graphane composition, please - preferably 5GHz or faster.
And, if you really, really, really, really want to read detailed information about all this, you can check out the abstract of the original Science journal article here.