Troy, N.Y. Copper's days are numbered, and a new study at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute could hasten the downfall of the ubiquitous metal in smart phones, tablet computers, and nearly all electronics. This is good news for technophiles who are seeking smaller, faster devices.
As new generations of computer chips continue to shrink in size, so do the copper pathways that transport electricity and information around the labyrinth of transistors and components. When these pathwayscalled interconnectsgrow smaller, they become less efficient, consume more power, and are more prone to permanent failure.
To overcome this hurdle, industry and academia are vigorously researching new candidates to succeed traditional copper as the material of choice for interconnects on computer chips. One promising candidate is graphene, an atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms arranged like a nanoscale chicken-wire fence. Prized by researchers for its unique properties, graphene is essentially a single layer of the graphite found commonly in our pencils or the charcoal we burn on our barbeques.
Led by Rensselaer Professor Saroj Nayak, a team of researchers discovered they could enhance the ability of graphene to transmit electricity by stacking several thin graphene ribbons on top of one another. The study, published in the journal ACS Nano, brings industry closer to realizing graphene nanoelectronics and naming graphene as the heir apparent to copper.
"Graphene shows enormous potential for use in interconnects, and stacking up graphene shows a viable way to mass produce these structures," said Nayak, a professor in the Department of Physics, Applied Physics, and Astronomy at Rensselaer. "Cooper's limitations are apparent, as increasingly smaller copper interconnects suffer from sluggish electron flows that results in hotter, less reliable devices. Our new study makes a case for the possibility that stacks of graphene ribbons could have what it tak
|Contact: Michael Mullaney|
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute