IBM has found a way to add a graphene-based transistor design to a traditional silicon chip design. The prototype can serve as a radio in a mobile phone soc. The use of graphene could reduce costs.
IBM Research describes in a study published in Nature Communications how a graphene-based radio unit was able to filter the letters ‘IBM’ from a radio signal at 4.3GHz. The signal had a speed of 20Mbit/s. According to IBM, the processing speed of the graphene design is ten thousand times faster than previous concept designs.
In the soc design, the graphene radio element occupies an area of only 0.6 square millimeters. The so-called graphene field-effect transistors are placed within a traditional silicon-based processor design. IBM states that this new design further reduces the chip area required. Moreover, the manufacturing costs would be lower.
Graphene, which is only one atom thick, is a relatively new material that has some unique properties. For example, it is two hundred times stiffer than steel and a hundred times faster than silicon, making it the fastest semiconductor. Because of these properties, researchers do a lot of research into possible areas of application for the nanomaterial. However, the disadvantage of graphene is that it is very fragile and therefore difficult to process in products.