In 2010 two physicists at Manchester University in the U.K. shared a Nobel Prize in Physics for their work on a new wonder material: graphene, a flat sheet of carbon just one atom thick. Konstantin Novoselov and Andre Geim, both Russian émigrés, discovered the material by applying plain old sticky tape to simple graphite.
Graphene is highly conductive and transparent and is also the strongest material known to science. One day it couldrevolutionize electronics. Novoselov tells us about the possibilities of this 2-D material and how it could transform the industry.
What does graphene mean for the future of computing?
It is certain that silicon will be used for transistors—semiconductor devices that are the building blocks of modern computers—for at least the next five to 10 years. But people are already thinking about possible alternative materials and technologies to replace silicon when it will fail to deliver for increasingly smaller and smaller transistors. A graphene transistor is one of the alternatives.
I’m also looking into other one-atom-thick 2-D materials that were obtained soon after graphene and at heterostructures based on those 2-D crystals. Potentially they can provide an alternative to silicon technologies, but here we’re talking about completely new architecture rather than just introducing a new material into the system. It’s hard to predict how it will develop because when you introduce one new material into a process, it’s already quite a complicated step, and if you want to change the whole architecture, it requires years of research. That’s why research should start now if we want to achieve something like that in 10 years’ time.
What do you think computers of the future could look like?
Computers are much more than just a display, interface and software: they are mainly about computing power and microprocessors—also known as the central processing unit [CPU], or the “brain” of a computer. In the future, we’ll probably expand the parallel computations, utilizing microprocessors with larger number of cores, when several CPUs will be working together on the same chip, enabling the computer to perform many more tasks with a much greater overall system performance. At the same time more specialized computers will start to appear because the cost won’t be so prohibitive anymore.
Do you think that in the future we will still think in terms of separate entities called computers?
Microprocessors will still exist. You won’t get rid of them. How parallel the computations can be and how many computers will be linked into a large network, into a cloud, that’s a different question. And with advances in telecommunications, with the speed getting higher and higher, it’s much easier to link many computers into a large network. That’s definitely what we’ll see more and more of. We’re seeing it already now, when a lot of our data is stored not on our desktop but in the cloud—and cloud computations will be more and more popular. But the basis will still be microprocessors and electronics and the current architecture. Click link below for full article.
Posted by F. Sheikh