June 12, 2011

IBM Unveils Nanotech Circuits For Wireless Devices

IBM Research scientists announced Friday they have achieved a significant breakthrough in creating a building block for the future of wireless devices: a circuit the thickness of an atom that will allow for the ability of mobile gadgets to receive signals or even scan people for hidden weapons.

In a paper published Friday in the magazine Science, the IBM researchers announced the creation of the circuit fabricated from wafer-size graphene, and demonstrated a broadband frequency mixer operating at frequencies up to 10 gigahertz.

"This research breakthrough has the potential to increase the performance of communication devices that enable people to interact with greater efficiency," said IBM Research science and technology vice president T.C. Chen.

"Just a few days before IBM commemorates its 100th anniversary, our scientists have achieved a nanotechnology milestone which continues the company's century-long pursuit of innovation," Chen told AFP.

The circuits have the potential to enable smartphones to pick up signals in areas where it is not possible now. They could also enable security scanners or medical X-ray devices to be more effective with less radiation danger.

Graphene -- the thinnest electronic material consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms packed in a honeycomb structure -- possesses outstanding electrical, optical, mechanical and thermal properties that could make it less expensive and use less energy inside portable devices.

Despite the significant progress in recent years in understanding how this material works, the challenge of integrating graphene transistors with other components on a single chip had not been realized until now, mostly due to poor adhesion of graphene to other metals and oxides, plus also the lack of reliable fabrication schemes to reproduce devices and circuits.

IBM said governments and big companies were eager to develop the technology but it was not clear when it might be commercially available.

Visit http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/34726.wss for further information.