Washington, April 18 : Researchers have used graphene - the world's thinnest material, to create the world's smallest transistor, one atom thick and ten atoms wide.
Dr Kostya Novoselov and Professor Andre Geim from The School of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Manchester, UK developed the tiny transistor.
The research team showed that graphene can be carved into tiny electronic circuits with individual transistors having a size not much larger than that of a molecule.
In recent decades, manufacturers have crammed more and more components onto integrated circuits. As a result, the number of transistors and the power of these circuits have roughly doubled every two years.
But the speed of cramming is now noticeably decreasing, and further miniaturisation of electronics is to experience its most fundamental challenge in the next 10 to 20 years, according to the semiconductor industry roadmap.
At the heart of the problem is the poor stability of materials if shaped in elements smaller than 10 nanometres in size. At this spatial scale, all semiconductors - including silicon - oxidise, decompose and uncontrollably migrate along surfaces like water droplets on a hot plate.
Four years ago, Geim and his colleagues discovered graphene, the first known one-atom-thick material that can be viewed as a plane of atoms pulled out from graphite. ow, the Manchester team has shown that it is possible to carve out nanometre-scale transistors from a single graphene crystal. Unlike all other known materials, graphene remains highly stable and conductive even when it is cut into devices one nanometre wide.
Graphene transistors start showing advantages and good performance at sizes below 10 nanometres - the miniaturization limit at which the Silicon technology is predicted to fail.
According to Novoselov, "Previously, researchers tried to use large molecules as individual transistors to create a new kind of electronic circuits. It is like a bit of chemistry added to computer engineering."
"Now one can think of designer molecules acting as transistors connected into designer computer architecture on the basis of the same material (graphene), and use the same fabrication approach that is currently used by semiconductor industry," he added.
"Graphene is an exciting new material with unusual properties that are promising for nanoelectronics," said Bob Westervelt, professor at Harvard University.