CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--New research findings at MIT could lead to microchips that operate at much higher speeds than is possible with today's standard silicon chips, leading to cell phones and other communications systems that can transmit data much faster.
The key to the superfast chips is the use of a material called graphene, a form of pure carbon that was first identified in 2004. Researchers at other institutions have already used the one-atom-thick layer of carbon atoms to make prototype transistors and other simple devices, but the latest MIT results could open up a range of new applications.
The MIT researchers built an experimental graphene chip known as a frequency multiplier, meaning it is capable of taking an incoming electrical signal of a certain frequency for example, the clock speed that determines how fast a computer chip can carry out its computations and producing an output signal that is a multiple of that frequency. In this case, the MIT graphene chip can double the frequency of an electromagnetic signal.
Frequency multipliers are widely used in radio communications and other applications. But existing systems require multiple components, produce "noisy" signals that require filtering and consume large power, whereas the new graphene system has just a single transistor and produces, in a highly efficient manner, a clean output that needs no filtering.
The findings are being reported in a paper in the May issue of Electron Device Letters and were also reported last week at the American Physical Society meeting by Toms Palacios, assistant professor in MIT's Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a core member of the Microsystems Technology Laboratories. The work was done by Palacios along with EECS Assistant Professor Jing Kong and two of their students, Han Wang and Daniel Nezich.
"In electronics, we're always trying to increase the frequency," Palacios says, in order to make
|Contact: Elizabeth Thomson|
Massachusetts Institute of Technology