IBM successfully transmits text using graphene-based circuit

IBM has successfully transmitted a text message using a circuit made out of graphene, as the firm shows the potential of carbon-based nanotechnology.

Graphene consists of a single layer of carbon atoms packed into a honeycomb structure. The low-cost material is an excellent conductor of electricity and heat, which meakes it ideal for use in smartphones and tablets as data can be transferred faster, save power and be more cost efficient.

The barrier to using graphene within integrated circuits is its fragility. But IBM believes it has found a way to compensate for this weakness by using silicon as a backbone for circuits.

The firm created an RF receiver using three graphene transistors, four inductors, two capacitors, and two resistors. These components were packed into a 0.6 mm2 area and fabricated in a 200mm silicon production line.

Big Blue's scientists were able to send and receive the digital text "I-B-M" over a 4.3 GHz signal with no distortion. The firm claims performance is 10,000 times better than previous efforts and is confident graphene can now be integrated into low-cost silicon technology.

The firm said applications could involve using graphene within smart sensors and RFID tags to send data signals at significant distances.

"This is the first time that someone has shown graphene devices and circuits to perform modern wireless communication functions comparable to silicon technology" said Supratik Guha, director of physical sciences at IBM Research.

Khidr Suleman is the Technical Editor at IT Pro, a role he has fulfilled since March 2012. He is responsible for the reviews section on the site  - so get in touch if you have a product you think might be of interest to the business world. He also covers the hardware and operating systems beats. Prior to joining IT Pro, Khidr worked as a reporter at Incisive Media. He studied law at the University of Reading and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism and Online Writing at PMA Training.