The MacGuffin

Graphene Scores Again

Posted by Lauren Rugani on March 26, 2009

If carbon forms were superheroes, graphene would be Superman. Stronger and lighter with seemingly magical electrical properties, the one-atom-thick sheet of carbon seems to have a leg up on almost any other material known to man. And researchers at MIT have figured out a way to use graphene to make frequency multipliers, which enhance data transmission speeds in cell phones or other communication devices while consuming less power than current silicon-based chips.

Their work won’t be published until the May issue of Electron Device Letters so no details on how they manufactured the chips, just that they were able to produce graphene sheets large enough for commerical use (a tricky hurdle that has been plaguing researchers since the material was discovered in 2004) and transfer the frequency multipliers to those sheets. By putting several devices one after another, they could theoretically create systems operating in the 500 to 1000 gigahertz range. (A gigahertz is a billion cycles per second, which governs how fast chips can carry out calculations. Most phones today operate at about 5 gigahertz.)

If and when I can get this paper I’ll update with more details. For now, I’ll continue to worship graphene.

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