Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Changing Trends In Nanocircuits

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Nanocircuits can be explained as a simple electrical circuit, at a dimension such that the quantum mechanical effects become important to be considered.  It's size ranges within 10-9 meters. The concept of nanocircuits arose when Intel's co-founder Gordon Moore suggested that the number of transistor that can be fabricated on a silicon integrated circuit will double every 18 to 24 months. More the number of transistors, more will be the speed of the computer.

But why should we worry about fabricating a transistor, can't we obtain a similar performance using resistors, capacitors or diodes?

The reason behind this is, transistors can act as a switch and can quickly turn on and turn off, regulating the flow of electricity. They can even amplify a signal ie; transforming a weak signal into strong signal. Most of the transistors we use in a circuit are silicon transistors. But opposite to this, when we are dealing with a nanocircuit silicon transistors cannot be used. It's because the silicon transistor of today are as small as allowed by the laws of physics and the resistivity of the circuit increases when the size shrinks to 30 nanometers.

So, it became a necessity for the Scientist and Engineers to device an alternate way if they wanted to add more functionality and reduce the size at nanoscale. So what they came up with, was a atomic scale wire made of carbon atoms and bonds. They named it Graphene (graphite+ene). Graphene is one atom thick  densely packed carbon atom bonds structured as a honeycomb crystal lattice. (See the above image) They are actually insulating materials but when the temperature is increased they act as conducting material.

Scientist are enthusiastic about graphene as the electrons meet with less resistance when they travel along graphene and also because they are faster and consume less power. Till now nobody knew how to produce graphene nanostructures on such a reproducible method. 

But recently some scientist claim that they have devised a simple one step process based on thermochemical nanolithography (TCNL) for creating nanowires from reduced graphene oxide.

Use of graphene interconnect could facilitate in integrated circuit performance once sizes drops to approximately 20nm. Also the high mobility of carriers in graphene could allow the fabrication of FETs with low channel resistance resulting in a high operational speed. The figure below shows a first ever logic gate and complementary inverter developed on graphene.

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