Flexible, Transparent, Atom-Thick Electronics

Graphene and boron nitride abut each other seamlessly, providing the makings of complex circuits just a few nanometers thick

3 min read
Strips of graphene [grey] and boron nitride stitch together to form arrays of wires.
Image: Yan Liang

08NWGrapheneBNHybridf1

Image: Yan Liang
Atomic Quilt: Strips of graphene [grey] and boron nitride stitch together to form arrays of wires. Click on the image to enlarge.

30 August 2012—Researchers at Cornell University, in Ithaca, N.Y., are doing work that suggests electronic circuits could continue to be miniaturized until they are just a few nanometers thick. The Cornell team reports in this week’s Nature that it has developed a technique for manufacturing the components of electronic circuits on a single one-atom-thick sheet. The result, they say, will be flexible and transparent electronics that are as thin as they can possibly be. Stacking these sheets could someday yield complex, three-dimensional integrated circuits that are still slimmer than any of today’s chips. 

Keep Reading ↓Show less

This article is for IEEE members only. Join IEEE to access our full archive.

Join the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and applied sciences and get access to all of Spectrum’s articles, podcasts, and special reports. Learn more →

If you're already an IEEE member, please sign in to continue reading.

Membership includes:

  • Get unlimited access to IEEE Spectrum content
  • Follow your favorite topics to create a personalized feed of IEEE Spectrum content
  • Save Spectrum articles to read later
  • Network with other technology professionals
  • Establish a professional profile
  • Create a group to share and collaborate on projects
  • Discover IEEE events and activities
  • Join and participate in discussions

3D-Stacked CMOS Takes Moore’s Law to New Heights

When transistors can’t get any smaller, the only direction is up

10 min read
An image of stacked squares with yellow flat bars through them.
Emily Cooper
Green

Perhaps the most far-reaching technological achievement over the last 50 years has been the steady march toward ever smaller transistors, fitting them more tightly together, and reducing their power consumption. And yet, ever since the two of us started our careers at Intel more than 20 years ago, we’ve been hearing the alarms that the descent into the infinitesimal was about to end. Yet year after year, brilliant new innovations continue to propel the semiconductor industry further.

Along this journey, we engineers had to change the transistor’s architecture as we continued to scale down area and power consumption while boosting performance. The “planar” transistor designs that took us through the last half of the 20th century gave way to 3D fin-shaped devices by the first half of the 2010s. Now, these too have an end date in sight, with a new gate-all-around (GAA) structure rolling into production soon. But we have to look even further ahead because our ability to scale down even this new transistor architecture, which we call RibbonFET, has its limits.

Keep Reading ↓Show less
{"imageShortcodeIds":[]}