The insideHPC blog reports that engineers at Ohio State University have used a local supercomputer to simulate microscopic manipulation of graphene, a one-atom-thick form of graphite. The engineers’ successful simulation and subsequent lab experiments have shown that graphene can perhaps become a superior substitute to silicon in electronics.
According to the Ohio Supercomputer Center website, “Researchers found that thin layers of graphite – the dark gray carbon material that fills most pencils – is highly stable, visible under the right conditions even when only one atom thick, stronger than steel and conducts electricity quickly and in exceptional ways.” The engineers’ research was published in the journal Advanced Materials.
This is an interesting development – perhaps one day silicon will be replaced with other materials such as graphene in electronics. According to Wikipedia, the first integrated circuit ever made, by Jack Kilby in 1958, was not made out of silicon but rather germanium. Half a year later, Robert Noyce created a circuit made of silicon.
(On a somewhat unrelated note, does anyone know why science articles on Wikipedia are so much longer than articles about the humanities? For instance, the article on graphene is longer and more heavily annotated than the article on Ancient Greece. There must be more scientists editing Wikipedia than historians or something.)