How Graphene Shapes the Future of Semiconductors

 The special properties of Graphene make it a potential replacement for silicon in the semiconductor landscape.

FREMONT, CA:  Regular innovation with silicon has enabled the semiconductor industry to garner consistent profits in the past few years. However, companies are experiencing increased difficulty in extracting more value out of silicon. The slowdown is leading the companies to new alternatives that can offer value, which is at par or greater than that of silicon. Graphene is one such alternative that can address the aforementioned challenge linked with the semiconductor industry. The atom-thick layer of Graphene leaves the experts speculating that it could replace silicon by emerging as a much superior alternative.

The structure of Graphene can be visualized as a crystalline form of carbon atoms in a unique hexagonal arrangement. Such an atomic arrangement at the microscopic level imparts a distinct zero-gap property to Graphene. The above property accounts for a much easier flow of electrons as compared to other conductor materials. Another property of Graphene that has drawn the attention of the researchers is its strength. In the case of a Graphene crystal, the electrical interaction that binds atoms together is extremely strong. The strength of a Graphene crystal makes it a useful manufacturing material as well.    

Graphene’s properties account for the speculations that it can replace silicon as a semiconductor material. For instance, Graphene’s mobility can be estimated to be over 250 times that of silicon. Moreover, its flexibility, as well as other properties, make it relevant for a range of applications like optoelectronic and battery technology. A graphene-based transistor can operate with much less energy than silicon-based transistors. The above capability enables the graphene-based semiconductors to function at a much higher clock speed without impacting the chip. Thus, Graphene can lead to the production of smaller as well as more stable computing devices than before.  

While the adoption of Graphene as a chip manufacturing material may take some time, early preparations, and proactive decision-making on when to replace Silicon with Graphene will certainly make a difference.

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