Scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology have documented a major breakthrough in the production of nanocircuitry on graphene,
a material that many envision as the successor of silicon for our electronics needs. Using thermochemical nanolithography (TCNL), the team found that the electrical properties of reduced graphene oxide (rGO) can be easily tuned to reliably produce nanoscale circuits in a single, quick step.
As the electronics industry keeps steadily pushing toward chip miniaturization, the physical limits of silicon transistors have been exposed and will soon constitute an insurmountable barrier that scientists need to address. The next proposed step is the replacement of silicon with a different material with better characteristics, and lately researchers seem to have put their eyes on graphene, a one-atom thick layer of carbon with a couple of aces up its sleeve: a better electrical conductance that makes for more energy-efficient computation, as well as its structure and dimensions, which open up the potential for much smaller, faster and even flexible electronics.
Despite the advantages that graphene could bring to the table, technological difficulties up until now have prevented us from reliably producing graphene nanostructures in a fast and inexpensive method, which is just what the Georgia Tech team has managed to achieve.