Graphene Electronics Could Make Internet Way Zippier

Air Date: 09/01/2011
Source:
Scientific American
Creator:
Larry Greenemeier
Air/Publish Date:
09/01/2011
Event Date:
09/01/2011
Resource Type:
Article
Copyright:
n/a
Copyright Date:
2011
Clip Length:
-

This 2011 Scientific American news story reports on advances in the photodetector abilities of graphene -- sheets of carbon only one atom thick. Graphene may be the foundation for optical communications as much as 100 times faster than today's fastest data transfer. Source: Scientific American, September 1, 2011.

Graphene Electronics Could Make Internet Way Zippier

September 1, 2011

Nobel laureates added metallic nanostructures to graphene to vastly boost its photodetector qualities. Larry Greenemeier reports

Graphene is a super strong sheet of carbon that's only one-atom thick. Since its discovery less than a decade ago, researchers have learned that graphene conducts heat and electricity extremely well. It's also transparent and highly flexible, making it an ideal candidate for making better electronics and other devices.

Now a team that includes Nobel Prize–winning graphene researchers Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov has improved graphene's ability to act as a photodetector. They combined graphene with metallic nanostructures to get a 20-fold enhancement in its ability to absorb light. [T. J. Echtermeyer et al., "Strong plasmonic enhancement of photovoltage in graphene," in Nature Communications]

Scientists already knew that adding certain materials to graphene could increase its light-harvesting efficiency and its ability to turn those photons into electricity. But they didn't realize just how much better the carbon sheets could get. They now believe that graphene could be the foundation for optical communications that are at least 10 and maybe even 100 times faster than the fastest data transfer rates available today.

In which case, the speed increase we got by moving from dial-up to broadband may have just been shifting into second gear on the information superhighway.

 

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