Electronic Product Design

Tuesday, 26 May 2015 00:00 Written by 

11-02-14 graphene 200Graphene in the Processing Arms Race

Last week we discussed the possibility of processing prediction Moore’s law coming to an end within the coming decades. Moore’s law states processing power will double, whilst the size of the processor will decrease in size each and every year. Some believe this already coming to an end, others believe we have some way to go yet. Either way, the cost of processor development is always growing – understandably, considering the power, size and years of R&D in every chip.

Graphene Spintronics

We’ve talked about wonder-material graphene a few times on this blog and its very nature means it is continually associated with the biggest and best innovation ideas coming forward.

Spintronics uses the spin of individual electrons to encode data. Impurities found in most metals limit the current range of components available, or require many thousands of electrons to make any meaningful data encode. Graphene works differently. If it can be harnessed properly the range of a Spintronics device could rapidly expand from nanometres to millimetres, making commercial applications potentially viable.

Spintronic devices are already used in some – but not many – real world scenarios, featuring in some hard-drives and other memory devices, whilst research teams at The University of Cambridge have been investigating 3D processor designs using Spintronics.

Clarity

For Spintronics to work efficiently, the metal base must be exceptionally clear, requiring very high quality metal, or for the metal to undergo a costly purification process.

Graphene holds the upper hand here. Using a chemical vapour deposition, one-atom-thin graphene wires are created, undergoing further deposition onto copper, followed by silicon-dioxide-on-silicon wafers. The result? Spintronics with a range of 16 micrometers, with a lifetime of 1.2 nanoseconds. I know, extremely short lived, minute memory storage – but it all has to start somewhere.

Research teams have a stated aim of creating a logical component similar to a transistor, using graphene and magnetic materials to develop storage devices. The eventual long-term goal of engineers is to create a viable technology to run alongside, if not replace semiconductors. Whether Spintronics can ultimately provide that technology, to be as powerful, as efficient, as useful and cost effective as traditional processors remains to be seen.

Image courtesy of: Victor Habbick / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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