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The scientists collected DNA from a graphene transistor
Graphene – a sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb structure, one atom thick. It is known that graphene could be a better semiconductor than silicon – if we can make the tape width of 20-50 atoms. Maybe we can help DNA.
DNA – the basis of life. But its structure can be a template for creating a new generation of computer chips that are based not on silicon but on experimental data on which the studies are thrown a lot of money and effort – graphene.
The link between these two concepts is currently engaged in a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford Chzhean Bao.
Together with co-workers, former researcher Anatoly Sokolov and Fung Ling Yap, Bao tries to solve the problem of uncertain future electronics : consumers are waiting for the silicon chips that have become smaller, faster and cheaper, but the engineers are afraid that this cycle will stop one day .
To begin with let’s look at how working silicon chips.
It begins with the concept of a semiconductor type material that can conduct electricity either or stopping its current. Silicon has long considered the most popular semiconductor – and not for the beautiful eyes. All chips are built based on it.
The basic working element chip – transistor. Transistors are tiny gates that switch current of electricity, creating the ones and zeros that are running the software.
The combined result of these actions should be concentrating more power in a smaller region of space. As long as it turns out, the industry produces a small, fast and low-cost chips. But at a certain point the heat and other forms of interference can disrupt the inner workings of silicon chips.
“We need a material that will make smaller transistors, that will run faster and use less energy,” – says Bao, did not hesitate to the current state of affairs.
Fortunately, graphene has a rather impressive physical and electrical properties to become the next generation of semiconductor material. If only scientists can agree on how to produce graphene platelets in large quantities.
Graphene, as we have already pointed out, this single-atom layer of carbon, forming a honeycomb structure. Visually it resembles a wire mesh. From the standpoint of this electricity grid carbon atoms is extremely effective conductor.
Bao and other researchers believe that graphene ribbons arranged side by side, can produce semiconductor chips. Given the tiny size of the material and pleasant electrical properties, graphene nanoribbons can be the basis for ultra-fast chips running at extremely low power.
“But, as expected, to do things in a layer one atom and from 20 to 50 atoms wide – is incredibly difficult,” – said the Falcons.
To cope with this problem, the Stanford team came up with the idea of using DNA as a mechanism for the assembly.
Physically, the DNA chain are long and thin, and their size is in the range of approximately the same as that of graphene ribbons that scientists want to do. Chemically DNA molecules contain carbon atoms, which consists of graphite. The most interesting thing is how Bao and her team want to get to work the physical and chemical properties of the DNA.
Researchers begin with a tiny bit of the silicon substrate to provide support (substrate) for its experimental transistor. A silicon substrate is dipped in a solution they DNA obtained from bacteria, and uses well-known technique of “combing” DNA in a relatively straight line.
The DNA on the substrate is maintained in a solution of a copper salt. The chemical properties of copper ions salt will absorb DNA. Then, the substrate is heated and immersed in the methane containing carbon atoms. Other chemical forces come into play to help the process of assembly. The heat will cause a chemical reaction that releases some of the carbon atoms in DNA and methane. Free atoms quickly connect together and form stable graphene honeycomb.
“Free the carbon atoms are close to the place where they are free from the chains of DNA, so form a structure identical to the structure of DNA.”
Scientists were able to implement his plan. The first part of the idea was to create a carbon tape. But the scientists also wanted to show that these carbon tape can perform electronic tasks, so did the transistors of the tapes.
“We are the first to demonstrate the possibility of using DNA for growing carbon narrow strips to create transistors”, – said the Falcons.
Bao, however, said that the assembly process is extremely necessary to perfect. For example, not all of the carbon atoms formed honeycomb feed one atom thick. Here and there they huddled and formed graphite instead of graphene.
Optimistic estimates say that within two years of the process proposed by the triple Stanford engineers who can stand up in a big way.
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Tags: Graphene , DNA , Semiconductors .
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