Here’s something that we never normally think about. Whenever you are surfing the web on your laptop, playing Angry Birds on your tablet, or playing Black Ops II on your Playstation 3, do you ever stop and think what is making all of that technology work? 9 times out of 10 the answer is going to be a no. We don’t ever really think about how something works as long as it works. However, inside your favorite devices are multitudes of different transistors and microchips that make it possible for your tech to do what it does. Almost everything it mad out of something called silicon. A readily available resource that is conductive enough to have everything work properly, but not conductive enough to fry all of the electronic inner workings. While silicon is definitely the “go to” resource for any real tech company, our friends over at Samsung may have found something that could knock silicon off of the map
Is anyone familiar with something called graphene? No? Not shocking as it isn’t something that tech companies use very often.
Graphene is a pretty amazing little material. We are talking about something that is actually HARDER than diamond and with only the thickness of an atom. It’s conductivity levels are through the roof and has the potential to, ultimately replace silicon. The only limitation that has been found with this amazing little metal is it’s size. Because of it’s small size, the qualities that it possesses can’t really be replicated and mass produced to benefit electronic products for consumers. Samsung however may have cracked the code to the whole “miniscule” problem.
Researchers at some of Samsung’s facilities have found a way to grow the crystal on a “large area, single crystal wafer scale”. What does this mean exactly? One word: Synthesize. Simply by finding a way to “grow” and copy, or synthesize, the graphene crystal, Samsung has effectively created a way to properly utilize the material despite its small stature. Now, while synthesizing most materials tends to deteriorate some of the materials natural properties, that hasn’t been the case for Samsung’s graphene endeavors. By synthesizing the material upon a semiconductor, it has been able to retain all of it’s properties without deteriorating later.
Samsung isn’t new to graphene either. It’s in almost every display to date. That iPad or iPhone that you’re reading this article on? Yup. Graphene in it. There is one drawback to the material though, aside from the small size. The fact that it is SO conductive that it’s almost TOO conductive. There is no real “energy gap” like with silicon. Since this material is so super conductive, it almost can’t really be turned “off”, even with the help of transistors. The transistors are what is used to help maintain power within the materials so that they don’t fry the inner workings of the devices. Remember, there can be a thing as too much power.
Some scientists within the Samsung research facilities might be onto something when they say that they could “dope” the material. By “doping” it, they’ll add chemicals to the material in order to tone down it’s conductive nature, however testing is still going on as they aren’t sure how the “doping” will affect the other properties.
Silicon is slowly becoming more and more scarce, and graphene is starting to looking really inviting. Should Samsung be able to work graphene into their products and start becoming more reliant on that instead of silicon, we might be in for a very different future in terms of our technology.