Metallic carbon electrical circuits to develop faster and more efficient transistors


Carbon-based rather than silicon-based transistors could speed up computing speeds and reduce the power consumption of devices such as computers, mobile phones and the like.

[תרגום מאת ד”ר משה נחמני]

Image of a scanning tunneling microscope of a narrow-striped metal graphene nano-strip. The white spots refer to single-electron-populated orbitals that are carefully organized to produce long-range conductive states. The width of this strip is only 1.6 nanometers. [באדיבות: Daniel Rizzo מאוניברסיטת ברקלי]

A team of chemists and physicists from the University of California at Berkeley has succeeded in developing the most advanced tool in the field of transistors – a metallic wire made entirely of carbon. “Activity with the same material, i.e. carbon-based materials, is what makes this technology possible to develop now,” explains Felix Fisher, a professor of chemistry at the University of Berkeley, adding that the production of all electrical circuit components from the same material makes the manufacturing process simpler and easier.

Metal wires – similar to the metal wires used to connect transistors in a computer chip – transmit electrical current from one device to another and also connect the semiconductor components inside the transistors, the same building blocks of computers.

A research group from the University of Berkeley has been researching for several years how to make semiconductors and insulators from graphene nano-strips, which are narrow, one-dimensional stripes made of monoatomic graphene, a structure made up entirely of carbon atoms arranged in a pattern of connected hexagons.

The innovative carbon-based metal is also a graphene nano-strip, however it is designed so that it can be used primarily for electron flow between semiconductor nan-strips in transistors made of carbon only. The nano-strips of metal were built by combining smaller and identical building blocks – in a ‘down-up design’ approach, one of the researchers notes. Each of the building blocks contributes a single electron capable of moving freely along the nano-strip.

Although other carbon-based materials – such as graphene-wide two-dimensional sheets and carbon nanotubes – can be metallic, they have their drawbacks. A two-dimensional sheet design for nanometer strips, for example, spontaneously turns it into a semiconductor material, or even, in some cases, an insulating material. Carbon nanotubes, which are excellent conductors, cannot be manufactured at the same levels of precision and flats in large quantities. “Nano-strips allow us chemical access to a wide range of structures produced in a down-up approach, which is not yet possible with nano-tubes,” the researcher explains. “This fact has actually allowed us to connect electrons together for the production of a metal nano-strip, something that has not been done before. This is one of the biggest challenges in the field of graphene nano-strip technology, and the fact that we are so excited about our findings.”

“We believe that metallic wires are indeed a breakthrough; this is the first time ever that we are able to create a particularly narrow metallic conductor that functions as an excellent conductor, all from carbon-only materials, without the need for external shear,” the lead researcher explains.

The findings of the study were published in the prestigious scientific journal Science.

To the announcement of the University of California at Berkeley

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