GRAPHENE ANAL­Y­SIS

iD magazine - - Lab -

HOW DOES THE FASTEST COM­PUTER IN THE WORLD ORIG­I­NATE FROM A PEN­CIL? If you strip off the top layer of car­bon atoms from a pen­cil lead (graphite), you end up with graphene. This ma­te­rial con­ducts elec­tric­ity and heat bet­ter than cop­per, and it’s con­sid­er­ably thin­ner (0.3 nanome­ters). If it were pos­si­ble to make a tran­sis­tor (see above)— a com­po­nent that con­trols the volt­age in elec­tri­cal ap­pli­ances— out of graphene, our com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy could be rev­o­lu­tion­ized. And we’re ac­tu­ally not too far from this.

In 2012, re­searchers at the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, River­side used graphene tran­sis­tors to build a com­puter with a com­put­ing speed of 427 gi­ga­hertz— about 200 times faster than a mod­ern lap­top. The tech­nol­ogy could one day be ready for mar­ket. Another pos­si­ble ap­pli­ca­tion of graphene is the con­struc­tion of new high­per­for­mance bat­ter­ies— with a stor­age ca­pac­ity that ex­ceeds that of con­ven­tional bat­ter­ies by a fac­tor of 10— which can be recharged in a mat­ter of min­utes. This tech­nol­ogy could prove es­pe­cially use­ful in the man­u­fac­ture of elec­tric cars.

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