"This means that the way we will be doing graphene electronics will be different," he explained. "We will not be following the model of using standard field-effect transistors (FETs), but will pursue devices that use ballistic conductors and quantum interference. We are headed straight into using the electron wave effects in graphene."
Taking advantage of the wave properties will allow electrons to be manipulated with techniques similar to those used by optical engineers. For instance, switching may be carried out using interference effects separating beams of electrons and then recombining them in opposite phases to extinguish the signals.
Quantum devices would be smaller than conventional transistors and operate at lower power. Because of its ability to transport electrons with virtually no resistance, epitaxial graphene may be the ideal material for such devices, de Heer said.
"Using the quantum properties of electrons rather than the standard charged-particle properties means opening up new ways of looking at electronics," he predicted. "This is probably the way that electronics will evolve, and it appears that graphene is the ideal material for making this transition."
De Heer's research team hopes to demonstrate a rudimentary switch operating on the quantum interference principle within a year.
Epitaxial graphene may be the basis for a new generation of high-performance devices that will take advantage of the material's unique properties in applications where higher costs can be justified. Silicon, today's electronic material of choice, will continue to be used in applications where high-performance is not required, de Heer said.
"This is an important step in the process," he added. "There are going to be a lot of
|Contact: John Toon|
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