Futurists are always talking about how flexible electronics will change our lives in amazing ways, but we've yet to see anything mind-blowing come to market. A team of scientists from the University of Texas in Austin, however, think they've found the key to changing that: ultrafast graphene transistors printed on flexible plastic.
Graphene is amazing stuff for a lot different reasons. One reason is that it's the perfect material for chip-making, and conventional graphene chips have broken several electronic speed records. In the past, however, attempts to put graphene transistors on flexible materials have caused that speed to take a dive. Not with this new method.
Indeed, the chips from Texas clock in at a record-breaking 25-gigahertz. The MIT Technology Review explains the manufacturing process:
To make the transistors, the researchers first fabricate all the non-graphene-containing structures — the electrodes and gates that will be used to switch the transistors on and off — on sheets of plastic. Separately, they grow large sheets of graphene on metal, then peel it off and transfer it to complete the devices. …
The graphene transistors are not only speedy but robust. The devices still work after being soaked in water, and they're flexible enough to be folded up.
And things are only getting better. Earlier this week we learned about a cutting edge technique for making graphene chips developed by a team of researchers from the University of California. All we need now is a company to take the plunge and start bringing some of this next level technology to market. And you thought Liquidmetal was cool. [Technology Review]