Graphene Chips: A Leap Towards Ultra-fast Computing

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Do you know what a graphene is? Have you ever heard of graphene chips? Don’t worry I will explain it in details.

What\’s so special about graphene, a substance that\’s found in pencil lead? First of all, \"graphene\"graphene is the thinnest compound known to man at one atom thick, and the lightest material known (with 1 square meter coming in at around 0.77 milligrams). It’s the world\’s first two-dimensional material. Although it has very low weight, it is remarkably strong, 100-300 times stronger than steel and with a tensile stiffness of 150,000,000 psi. Graphene can also conduct heat and electricity with great efficiency. Other notable properties of graphene are its unique levels of light absorption at πα ≈ 2.3% of white light, and its potential suitability for use in spin transport. Below show the example of a graphene model.


Graphene could well be an ecologically friendly. There are no proven dangers to consumers. It\’s a sustainable solution for an almost limitless number of applications. Since the discovery of graphene, advancements within different scientific disciplines have exploded, with huge gains being made particularly in electronics and biotechnology already.

So what make graphene chips stand out from silicon chips? Graphene chips is faster and use less energy than silicon chips. Engineers at IBM were able to build a graphene-augmented radio frequency chip that was 10,000 times faster than a standard silicon-based chip. The transistor channels were made of ultra-conductive graphene, laid down in a new manufacturing process in which standard chip components are assembled first then graphene laid down on top. In theory, graphene is capable of operating at frequencies as high as 500GHz and have the potential to operate at 1THz, well beyond any other material currently used in RF applications. Example of how.


Why graphene chips is not used in electronic devices today? The main problem that prevented graphene from initially being available for developmental research in commercial uses was that the creation of high quality graphene was a very expensive and complex process that involved the use of toxic chemicals to grow graphene as a monolayer by exposing Platinum, Nickel or Titanium Carbide to ethylene or benzene at high temperatures. Currently the easiest way to grow large amounts of graphene is by extracting it from copper. But the quality of graphene grown in this way isn’t great, and that having to destroy the copper substrate is expensive and inefficient.

The second reason is competitors such as carbon nanotube which IBM believes show better promise as a direct semiconductor replacement to silicon in the sub-7-nm scale era, due to slightly different physical properties. Carbon nanotube-based chips promise to offer five to ten times improved performance over silicon-based ones. It’s important to note that we’re still very much talking about an analog chip. IBM Research still hasn’t found a way of giving graphene the all-important band gap that is required for the fabrication of digital logic, and thus graphene-based computer processors. For next-gen processors, IBM seems to be focusing on carbon nanotubes, which can have a band gap over graphene.

In conclusion, it just a matter of time before graphene chips fully replace silicon chips. When it comes to processing power, they are faster and more efficient than the traditional chips.



Teck Kan


Teck is a second-year student from UCSI university. He is currently undergoing internship at Datum as programmer.

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