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Graphene 'Big Mac' — One Step Closer To Microchips

timothy posted about 3 years ago | from the chips-with-vinegar-on-the-side dept.

United Kingdom 50

RogerRoast writes "Scientists at the University of Manchester have come one step closer to creating the next generation of computer chips using graphene. By sandwiching two sheets of graphene with another two-dimensional material, boron nitrate, the team created the graphene 'Big Mac' – a four-layered structure which could be the key to replacing the silicon chip in computers. The research results were published in Nature Physics (abstract; full version paywalled)."

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Not boron nitrate. . . (4, Informative)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | about 3 years ago | (#37659564)

. . . but boron nitride. I'm also worried by the fact that I knew our summary was wrong without even looking at the abstract.

Re:Not boron nitrate. . . (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37659590)

. . . but boron nitride. I'm also worried by the fact that I knew our summary was wrong without even looking at the abstract.

I can tell that Slashdot summaries are wrong without even reading the summaries. To be fair though, you can say the same of news stories everywhere.

Re:Not boron nitrate. . . (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37659656)

You guys are naive. With that level of error, there's obviously a competition among slashdot editors for the most inaccurate summary of the year.

Re:Not boron nitrate. . . (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37659714)

Don't read this... it is a curse...

In 1990, a little boy named George was walking down the railroad tracks that were located behind his backyard. Eventually, he decided to go back home, so he crossed the ditch that separated his yard and the railroad tracks. However, George noticed that it suddenly got very foggy. He could hardly see five feet ahead of himself!

George had his blanket over his head; part of it was dragging on the ground as he walked. While walking back to his house, he noticed a teddy bear sitting against a tree behind his shed; it was waving at him. This frightened George, who was now speed walking. George, not wanting to turn back to see the teddy bear, instinctively knew that it was following him. He saw its shadow approaching him from behind.

When it got close enough, he used his blanket and knocked it down on the ground. George was then flung into the air for seemingly no reason, and when he landed on the ground, he bounced back into the air. This happened a few more times, and each time he bounced, he would bounce about twenty feet into the air. Finally, George's bootyass landed directly on top of the teddy bear's face, and he could no longer move a single cheek.

George, although frightened, knew that something bad was going to happen. The teddy bear said, "Like, tsk, owie!" in a little boy's voice that sounded as if it was echoing throughout a room. After a few moments of silence, George heard a "vvvvvvvvvvvvv" sound that sounded like something was getting sucked into something else. He quickly realized that the teddy bear was getting sucked right up his butt as if his bootyass was a spaghetti noodle! Soon afterwards, George's bootyass became something else entirely: a rumblehouse bootyass! Then, the teddy bear started bouncing around in George's bootyass and hitting its sides whilst emitting an aura of pure malice.

Now that you have read this (even a single word of it), the very same teddy bear will use your bootyass as a bouncehouse and inflict extreme amounts of tickle upon it! To prevent this from happening, copy and paste this entire comment and then repost it as a comment three times.

Re:Not boron nitrate. . . (2)

gilgoomesh (966411) | about 3 years ago | (#37659686)

Slashdot correctly quoted the University of Manchester article. It used "boron nitrate" repeatedly and only used "boron nitride" in a quote. I don't know what MagusSlurpy is talking about when he mentions the abstract though it doesn't mention either.

I'm far more disappointed that nothing mentions why we would expect this to replace silicon as a semiconductor.

Re:Not boron nitrate. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37659704)

easier superconductivity -> insane megahertzes?

Re:Not boron nitrate. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37660336)

we already have insane megahertzes, they are called gigahertzes...
Now for insane gigahertzes...

Re:Not boron nitrate. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37659732)

Slashdot correctly quoted the University of Manchester article. It used "boron nitrate" repeatedly and only used "boron nitride" in a quote. I don't know what MagusSlurpy is talking about when he mentions the abstract though it doesn't mention either.

I'm far more disappointed that nothing mentions why we would expect this to replace silicon as a semiconductor.

I would guess it has to do with this statement:
with another two-dimensional material

So you ought to be able to stack an infinite quantity of them and still have infinite room to add more! Hooray!

(yes I'm aware they meant "single atom thickness" and not "only exists in two spatial dimensions" but hey, it's not like they explain it in the summary or article)

Re:Not boron nitrate. . . (3, Interesting)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | about 3 years ago | (#37659942)

Sorry, I meant article, it's not in the abstract. If you don't have a Nature subscription, you can still look at the supplementary info, it mentions BN several times, not BNO3.

As to why we would expect it to replace silicon, it's because the graphene-to-boron nitride transition can be tuned by the application of a current to the graphene "top bun."

I'm not sure that's a good enough reason for it to replace silicon, but it is kind of cool.

Re:Not boron nitrate. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37660936)

'As to why we would expect it to replace silicon, it's because the graphene-to-boron nitride transition can be tuned by the application of a current to the graphene "top bun." ' Does that mean that we UK tax payers have just paid 50 million to make a currant bun? No wonder manufacturing is dead in the UK...

Re:Not boron nitrate. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37659960)

Then TFA is wrong as well (except for that quote). Note how the abstract mentions BN, and if you look at the full text from the PDF link at http://arxiv.org/abs/1107.0115 as mentioned in another comment, it explicitly mentions boron nitride. It looks like a case of people who don't know about science writing about it as if they do.

Re:Not boron nitrate. . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37660070)

Slashdot correctly quoted the University of Manchester article

No, they didn't. They incorrectly attributed a quote from the University of Manchester to someone calling themselves "RogerRoast". That is not correctly quoting them.

Re:Not boron nitrate. . . (2)

dkf (304284) | about 3 years ago | (#37660232)

Slashdot correctly quoted the University of Manchester article. It used "boron nitrate" repeatedly and only used "boron nitride" in a quote.

I've just checked; the "nitrate" is present once and "nitride" three times. Looks like a press-office error.

(Disclosure: I work for the same university.)

Re:Not boron nitrate. . . (1)

arisvega (1414195) | about 3 years ago | (#37660150)

. . . but boron nitride.

Nobody ever likes molten Boron.

Re:Not boron nitrate. . . (2)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | about 3 years ago | (#37660298)

Nobody doesn't like molten boron!

True but (1)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 3 years ago | (#37660692)

Lots of people like molten boron oxide. It is the best flux that there is for brazing. Hand made bicycle frames, upmarket plumbing fixtures, a whole lot of things go together better with a little boric acid.

Re:Not boron nitrate. . . (1)

SpaceCracker (939922) | about 3 years ago | (#37672776)

. . . but boron nitride.

Got that? It's night-ride, you boron!

two-dimensional material? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37659568)

If true, that would be a much more interesting story...

Re:two-dimensional material? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37659596)

While in the more comman usage of the term, it would seem that a two-dimensional material cannot exist in space, graphene has a "two-dimensional" atomic structure, making a single atom layer possible. Of course if that thickness isn't zero, it means there are still three dimensions, but it's still a common terminalogy, for whatever reason.

Re:two-dimensional material? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37659858)

It's a Big Mac, not a Big'n Tasty.

Full paper free on arXiv (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37659588)

It's been 7 years! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37659654)

So. When will someone plug a graphene cpu into a motherboard?

Re:It's been 7 years! (3, Insightful)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 3 years ago | (#37659870)

So. When will someone plug a graphene cpu into a motherboard?

The first transistor was invented in 1925. The first integrated circuit was developed in 1958. That's 33 years. The first commercially available microprocessor was available in 1970, that's another 12 years. And you complain because of just seven years?

Re:It's been 7 years! (1)

pinkeen (1804300) | about 3 years ago | (#37660068)

It's not so simple, I don't think that your analogy is entirely correct. The developments required for the introduction of first commercial microprocessor were vast and most of that knowledge is still relevant or new ideas were built upon it. We already have most of the technological and scientifc knowledge so the leap needed to manufacture graphene chip is much smaller than in case of silicon.

Re:It's been 7 years! (1)

Born2bwire (977760) | about 3 years ago | (#37662726)

The transistor was developed in 1947. If you're going to say that the transistor was invented in 1925 then you should also say that graphene was invented 1962. It wasn't until the late forties that they actually created a transistor just like it wasn't until 7 years ago that graphene was actually created.

Re:It's been 7 years! (1)

clyde_cadiddlehopper (1052112) | about 3 years ago | (#37660648)

So. When will someone plug a graphene cpu into a motherboard?

When they work out the bits about adding special sauce, lettuce cheese, pickles, onions and sesame seeds. TFSummary is honest enough to say "one step closer."

Graphene-boron neutron shield? (2)

Suomi-Poika (453539) | about 3 years ago | (#37659808)

Someone who knows nuclear physics should comment this:

Boron has a large cross section for neutron capture, graphite on the other hand is used as a neutron moderator. Is it possible that graphene-boron nitride is also the optimal neutron shielding material?

No. (4, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | about 3 years ago | (#37659888)

What do you think happens to the boron when it captures a neutron? It gives off an alpha particle and changes to lithium. Your neutron shielding material would disintegrate very rapidly indeed.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37660724)

Well, computers are consumables now anyways and when it's time to upgrade in a few months again, we can feed the old one to a bi-polar friend.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37662144)

"It gives off an alpha particle and changes to lithium."

Really? Is the lithium radioactive? What would you get if you replaced a graphite rod in a nuclear reactor with a boron rod? Could this be a simple way to "make" lithium? Since we are all trying to dig lithium out of the ground for batteries, we have nuclear plants already, this seems plausible.

Re:Graphene-boron neutron shield? (1)

arisvega (1414195) | about 3 years ago | (#37660156)

Is it possible that graphene-boron nitride is also the optimal neutron shielding material?

No.

Re:Graphene-boron neutron shield? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37660788)

factoring cost into the equation, water is the best neutron sheild. after that, its the cheapest plastic you can find. i cant imagine how expensive a boron nitride graphene shield would be, not to mention brittle and weak. if youre looking for something that is ultra thin to do the job, there are better metals out there.

Two Dimensional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37659820)

Did anyone else catch that graphene evidently only exists in two dimensions?
I mean... shit. My world view just got ruined. Neutrinos don't have anything on graphene, I don't care how fast they travel.

Re:Two Dimensional? (4, Informative)

MagusSlurpy (592575) | about 3 years ago | (#37660092)

Graphene is referred to as being "two dimensional" because the thickness is typically controlled to one atomic layer thick along the z axis, while it extends infinitely (comparatively) along the x and y axes.

Re:Two Dimensional? (2)

chichilalescu (1647065) | about 3 years ago | (#37660984)

please note that graphene is (always, not "typically") exactly one atom thick (otherwise it's just a plain chip of graphite). It is because it is exactly one atom thick that it has the interesting properties.

Re:Two Dimensional? (1)

tmosley (996283) | about 3 years ago | (#37661068)

Incorrect. Aromatic stacking forces make bulk (ie very thick sheets) graphene incredibly strong. It is nothing like graphite, which is composed mostly of amorphous carbon and is full of irregularities.

what the heck? (0)

Dark Lord of Ohio (2459854) | about 3 years ago | (#37660054)

18 comments and 12 anonymous cowards... it's some invasion? Or they are from Intel/AMD gathering info for their labs and creating FUD?

Re:what the heck? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37660168)

We are Anonymous. You may call us Cowards for although we are many, we are still 37 persons short to be called Legion.

Where to invest? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37660316)

You hear about all of this research, but if someone were to invest in hopes of returns (ala the stock market), they're out of luck. What's the deal?

Big Macs have 5 layers. (2)

drewmister (1722180) | about 3 years ago | (#37660400)

This would be the McDouble of computer chips.

Re:Big Macs have 5 layers. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37661508)

Why's it gotta be branded? Why's it gotta be a *McDonald's* hamburger? Why not just Deluxe Bacon Cheeseburger?

Why's it gotta be named after a hamburger at all? Why not a Seven Layer Burrito? Why's it gotta be one of Tricon Global Restaurants, Inc's Taco Bell products? Why can't it just be a burrito that happens to have 7 layers, and not a "Seven Layer Burrito ®"?

Re:Big Macs have 5 layers. (1)

Crudely_Indecent (739699) | about 3 years ago | (#37663388)

Why can't it be a burger that actually tastes good and probably isn't made out of mealworm - like:

In-n-Out Double-Double

and when they take the next step and double the number of layers:

It can be the Four-by-Four
(for those of you who've never been to an In-n-Out - this isn't on the menu - wear a bib....and gloves)

Kind of disappointed (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | about 3 years ago | (#37660892)

I was expecting a new, huge Apple product in non-white colors, or some funky flavored McD's sandwich. The article was still pretty cool, though.

informative trollkoretroolkore (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37661088)

How can they get this so wrong? (1)

Hjalmar (7270) | about 3 years ago | (#37661282)

"...[A] four-layered structure"?!?

Seriously?

Everyone knows a Big Mac has five layers. What they created was a McDouble. Or, if you're in California and parts of Arizona, a Double Double.

Re:How can they get this so wrong? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37664578)

The fifth layer is your mom's tight pussy.

low temperature physics (1)

Goldsmith (561202) | about 3 years ago | (#37662310)

I'm not sure a transistor which relies on low temperature (as in, liquid nitrogen) effects to achieve an off state is actually a viable technology.

Graphene is a wonderful material, but so far the only thing graphene is useful for is an academic research career. We (meaning nano researchers) really need to start being honest with the general media about applications. It's not ok to produce a device to measure a low temperature self-organization effect, then tell the media it's actually a prototype transistor. It's simply not true.

Re:low temperature physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37662562)

The media isn't particularly interested in honesty at all, in case you haven't noticed.

e.g. invisibility cloaks, LHC black holes, OPERA, resveratrol, any type of cancer treatment etc.

Re:low temperature physics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37665136)

No, graphene will make space elevators possible so we can colonize Saturn's rings and eat asteroids for breakfast.

better burger toppings (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37672940)

A better ingredient would be Barium Carbon Nitrate (BaCON)!

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