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Researchers Pencil In Graphene Transistors

Graphene's weird electrical properties allow for smallest transistor yet

3 min read

The little smudges you leave behind whenever you use a pencil could be the key ingredient of the next revolution in computer circuitry, according to experts around the globe. Part of what shears off from the graphite in a pencil is a substance known as graphene, a one-atom-thick crystal with remarkable electrical properties that may overcome the physical limits silicon faces as transistors shrink to ever-smaller sizes.

Silicon's remarkable run as ruler of the chip world may be nearing an end as engineers eventually lose the ability to make faster silicon transistors by making them smaller. In the hunt for what comes next, carbon nanotubes have gotten a big chunk of the attention, but if the current explosion of research activity is any indication, it may be graphene that wins in the end. This spring saw a flurry of breakthroughs surrounding graphene, culminating in the creation of what may be the smallest transistor ever made--one atom thick by 10 to 50 atoms wide.

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The Transistor at 75

The past, present, and future of the modern world’s most important invention

2 min read
A photo of a birthday cake with 75 written on it.
Lisa Sheehan

Seventy-five years is a long time. It’s so long that most of us don’t remember a time before the transistor, and long enough for many engineers to have devoted entire careers to its use and development. In honor of this most important of technological achievements, this issue’s package of articles explores the transistor’s historical journey and potential future.

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