Using graphene and other 2D materials to create the world's smallest microchips, in a method called "nano-origami," can speed up computers.
Physicists from the University of Sussex in the U.K. made the first-time discovery.
"Nano-origami" is a form that is made by crinkling, or creaking kinks, in nanomaterials such as graphene, and the researchers discovered that when it is placed in such a format, the graphene acts as a tiny microchip. By crinkling the material, the researchers found a way to make a microchip that's 100 times smaller than current conventional ones.
Uses in computing
The discovery could prove huge for the future of computing.
As Prof. Alan Dalton, of the University of Sussex, who worked on the study, said "Using these nanomaterials will make our computer chips smaller and faster. It is absolutely critical that this happens as computer manufacturers are now at the limit of what they can do with traditional semiconducting technology."
"Ultimately, this will make our computers and phones thousands of times faster in the future."
This type of technology, called "straintronics" uses nanomaterials such as graphene instead of electronics, and in this particular case allows for more space inside devices for more chips to be used.
"Everything we want to do with computers — to speed them up — can be done by crinkling graphene like this," continued Prof. Dalton.
What's great about the team's discovery is that there's no longer the need to add more and more foreign materials into a device to make it work faster. Instead, all they need to do is use this nano-origami method with materials such as graphene, and they have a greener and more sustainable technology that is also faster.
The team pointed out that the tech is greener as it doesn't require more materials, and its process uses less energy as it can be done at room temperature rather than using high temperatures.
The study is published in the journal ACS Nano.