IBM says new graphene microchip as good as silicon

A new generation of cheap, high-speed wireless computers could be a step closer after IBM produced a graphene microchip it claims can equal silicon.

The company says integrated circuits based on graphene, the single atomic layer form of carbon, could allow mobile and wearable computing devices to transmit data much faster and in a more cost-effective and power-efficient way than conventional silicon semiconductor technology.

IBM claims its latest chip is the most advanced fully functional integrated circuit made of wafer-scale graphene and performs 10,000 times better than previous reported efforts.

‘This is the first time that someone has shown graphene devices and circuits to perform modern wireless communication functions comparable to silicon technology,’ said Supratik Guha, director of physical sciences at IBM Research, in a statement.

The company produced its first graphene-based integrated circuit in 2011 but the performance of the proof-of-concept device was limited by the harsh fabrication processes involved in making it.

IBM researchers now claim to have used a new approach based on mainstream silicon CMOS manufacturing processes to produce the world’s first multi-stage graphene radio frequency receiver: ‘the most sophisticated graphene integrated circuit to date’.

To demonstrate its functionality, the researchers used the chip to transmit a text message displaying the letters “I-B-M”.

A paper on the research has been published in the journal Nature Communications