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IBM Graphene RF IC. Read the full report in the following link. (via Nature)


Engineers at IBM Research recently announced that they have successfully built the world’s most advanced graphene-based RF chip to date, which may change the functionality of mobile devices as we know it. IBM sent the text message “I-B-M” to the chip, and it was received – a huge leap forward.

 

While it has long been known that graphene-based chips are theoretically faster than simple silicon molds, the manufacturing of the speedy chips has been a struggle, as graphene is fairly fragile and most manufacturing processes are too rough for the dainty technology. IBM did, however, recently discover how to successfully manufacture a chip that, in theory, is 10,000 times more powerful than anything currently on the market.

 

IBM’s design takes a standard silicon chip, manufactured using existing CMOS processes, and adds graphene transistors only after the silicon structure is complete, keeping the fragile material intact. The chip itself isn’t super innovative, as the only difference between IBM’s chip and a standard 200mm silicon chip is simply the graphene transistors. The seemingly insignificant difference does, however, drastically increase the capability of the device.

IBM grows the graphene by dropping a single layer of graphene on a heated copper foil in a furnace with a methane environment at 1,922 degrees Fahrenheit. The copper dissolves in a bath and the remaining graphene is scooped up using the newly manufactured silicon chip. The IBM team of engineers said while this is the easiest way to manufacture graphene, it isn’t necessarily the best and hope to develop a more efficient system soon.

 

The innovative graphene chip can theoretically function at a frequency of 500GHz, well above the capabilities of anything currently used in RF applications. There have not yet been any announcements of an upcoming graphene analog chip, but if the technology is harnessed, we can expect to see faster communication in mobile devices in the near future. Thanks, IBM!

 

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