Dr.-Ing. Sarah Riazimehr

Electronic Engineering | Optical Engineering | Nanotechnology

But wait…what about conventional silicon products? Don’t they improve as well?

Silicon chip wafer
Silicon chip wafer
Source: flickr, Jack Spades, CC BY 2.0

Silicon is the most important element in the modern computing industry. Silicon made possible the existence of PCs, smartphones, and more advanced computing technologies. In fact, silicon is the heart of the technological world. Silicon is vital to our continued technological progress.

But if forecasts are right, the exponential growth of electronics technology will not be able to continue for a long time. As I mentioned in the “What is Moore’s Law and what has Graphene to do with it?” post, miniaturization is unlikely to continue forever. At some point, it has to approach an end. The ongoing miniaturization of technology is like folding a piece of paper. When you increase the number of folds, then it becomes much more difficult to continue folding it and at some point it physically impossible to fold the paper further.

For silicon technology, not only complicated physical effects make it impossible to shrink transistors even more, but also with each step of successive shrinkage it becomes exponentially more expensive. At this point, it is time to find new and exotic ways to advance the technology. This short video explains Moore’s law.

Video: Moore’s law

Chip-makers and scientists should think of new material to extend electronic chip downsizing assumption. Company’s like IBM and lots of research institutes and universities are investigating on new and improved materials. For example Graphene, which is the first member of two-dimensional (2D) materials. Graphene is one atomic layer of carbon arranged in a hexagonal honeycomb lattice structure.

Another is carbon nanotubes, which are like tiny straws made from rolled up Graphene sheets. As I mentioned in “What is meant by ‘beyond Graphene’?” There are lots more than these two materials. More than hundred 2D materials have been discovered. All of these materials are very thin and stable at the room temperature and atmospheric pressure even if they are downsized to one atomic layer.

‪This video shows why new material can revolutionize electronic technology in near future.

Video: Possibly The Biggest Technological Revolution Since The Silicon Chip‬

There are lots of researches going on to extend electronic chip downsizing by the help of all these exotic materials. In my next post, I will talk about the current research state and practical uses of these exotic materials.

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