Lou, I've seen the same dialectic again and again between supposed silicon limits about to be reached at X.X process generation and the architectural fixes for same. But one of the main reasons silicon hasn't been replaced yet isn't technical: it's economic, And I don't mean the fact that the material is relatively cheap. The situation is analogous to other potential replacements, like electric and/or hybrid cars, or solar energy, or bioplastics and biofuels: the existing infrastructure is huge, entrenched, pervasive and profitable. Replacing it will take a lot of conscious, united effort, even if the replacing technology works just as well.
Graphene is the future. Forcing a band gap in the material was the crucial step.
However, now that it is poised to be used mainstream, how toxic is the manufacturing process of graphene? I read an article here at DN on nano-tube creation, and its bad. Graphene can't be far behind it.
Cabe, thanks for covering this news from Georgia Tech. Graphene, in various forms including CNTs, has been considered as one possible replacement for silicon for several years. This is a totally cool step forward.
The issue of shrinking transistor size and of stretchability are really two different things.
Over the last many years people have been looking for the replacement for silicon. It is interesting that this has not happened yet. Chip makers continually improve silicon manufactur and density. Other materials generally prove to be of a much lower yield or density or both. Gallium Arsenide was one of those. It could operate at higher speeds, but yield and density were poor.
The solution to reaching limits on clock speed has been architectural. Thus we have multicore machines.
It always seems to be a race between silicon getting better and something else. As you point out in the article, the first theoretical conjecture was in 1947. These things can take a long time before they go from theory to industrial use.
Researchers have been working on a number of alternative chemistries to lithium-ion for next-gen batteries, silicon-air among them. However, while the technology has been viewed as promising and cost-effective, to date researchers haven’t managed to develop a battery of this chemistry with a viable running time -- until now.
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