Graphene Propped Up Vertically on a Substrate Could Sustain Moore's Law

Let’s be clear from the beginning, recent research at Rice University with graphene is based on calculations, not physical manipulation of the material.

According to the physics, it should be possible to get graphene to stand up vertically on a substrate, like a wall, with the aid of diamonds, but I imagine there will be some hair pulling in the labs before they can physically duplicate the process. So while it all sounds quite intriguing, I am not suggesting by highlighting it in this blog that what we have here is anything beyond a model.

That said, I think I should note that my coverage of graphene, carbon nanotubes, and other nanomaterials in electronic applications is not a implication that these materials will be a replacement for silicon any time soon—as I discovered at least one reader felt I was suggesting in a blog post on graphene earlier this year.

However, the pressures of Moore’s Law require that these materials be looked at intensely to keep pace with the unrelenting doubling of transistors on an IC every two years—band gap or not.

In fact, one of the authors of the article in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Boris Yakobson, Rice's Karl F. Hasselmann Chair in Engineering and a professor of materials science and mechanical engineering and of chemistry, makes a point of discussing Gordon Moore in the coverage of the research.

“We met in Montréal, when nano was a new kid on the block, and had a good conversation," said Yakobson. "Moore liked to talk about silicon wafers in terms of real estate. Following his metaphor, an upright architecture would increase the density of circuits on a chip—like going from ranch-style houses in Texas to skyscraper condos in Hong Kong.

"This kind of strategy may help sustain Moore's Law for an extra decade," he said.

It will be interesting to see if anyone takes on these calculations and attempts to duplicate the results with physical experiments. But with the “theoretical potential of putting 100 trillion graphene wall field-effect transistors (FETs) on a square-centimeter chip” it would seem to be worth the try.



IEEE Spectrum’s nanotechnology blog, featuring news and analysis about the development, applications, and future of science and technology at the nanoscale.

Dexter Johnson
Madrid, Spain
Rachel Courtland
Associate Editor, IEEE Spectrum
New York, NY