IBM Demonstrates Graphene Transistor Twice as Fast as Silicon

Graphene continues to impress with its string of landmark achievements for electronics

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IBM Demonstrates Graphene Transistor Twice as Fast as Silicon

IBM has created a graphene-based transistor capable of operating at 100 gigahertz, which is more than twice as fast as silicon chips with speeds of 40 GHz using the same gate length. But unlike other high-speed transistors which are made from expensive semiconducting materials like indium phosphide, the graphene transistor will not require the same cooling.

IBM developed the graphene radio frequency transistors for the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency under its Carbon Electronics for RF Applications (CERA) program. The goal of the CERA program and of the IBM researchers is to get the speed of the graphene transistor to 1 THz.

The graphene transistor demonstrated in the research reported in Science had a gate length of 240 nanometers and by applying currently available lithographic techniques it will be possible to reduce that gate length to 35 nanomaters. This reduction in gate length should bring the 1 THz goal within reach.

As reported last week with IBM’s announcement of creating a band gap for graphene, Phaedon Avouris and his team of researchers at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York, used a metal top-gate architecture employing a high-k dielectric oxide insulated from the graphene layer by a polymer for this high speed RF transistor.

It would seem with these two announcements from IBM within a week of one another that graphene could move more quickly into commercial electronic applications than its carbon cousin, carbon nanotubes.

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The luminaries who dared predict the future of the transistor for IEEE Spectrum include: [clockwise from left] Gabriel Loh, Sri Samavedam, Sayeef Salahuddin, Richard Schultz, Suman Datta, Tsu-Jae King Liu, and H.-S. Philip Wong.


The 100th anniversary of the invention of the transistor will happen in 2047. What will transistors be like then? Will they even be the critical computing element they are today? IEEE Spectrum asked experts from around the world for their predictions.

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