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Energy Efficiency energy efficient telecommunications with graphene

Published on July 29th, 2012 | by Tina Casey

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“Mr. Watson, Come Here. I Have Graphene!”

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July 29th, 2012 by  

energy efficient telecommunications with graphene

Scientists at Columbia Engineering have discovered yet another talent in graphene, a unique new material that consists of a sheet of carbon only one atom thick. Graphene is already under the spotlight for its potential use in ultra-efficient electronics, batteries, solar energy, and even desalination, and now it seems that graphene could provide a platform for energy-efficient telecommunications, too.

Graphene for telecommunications

The new research, in collaboration with the Institute of Microelectronics in Singapore, has resulted in the development of a hybrid semiconductor chip made of silicon layered with graphene.

With the addition of graphene, the research team was able to make the chip generate a radio frequency on top of a laser beam. They could also change the frequency by altering the intensity and color of the laser beam.

The device is based on “mixing” two electromagnetic fields that operate at low energy, which translates into a reduction in the amount of energy needed to transmit each information bit.

I did so build this graphene whatsis!

Given the number of large and small businesses that have launched on the back of silicon chips, Columbia’s new hybrid chip could have the potential to generate hundreds, if not thousands, of new private sector enterprises based on a new generation of energy-efficient telecommunications.

Entrepreneurs who succeed in this new niche will naturally want to give a measure of credit to the research team that developed the new hybrid chip.

While they’re at it, they could throw a bone to the Columbia Energy Frontier Research Center program, which supported the research and is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, as well as the the Columbia Optics and Quantum Electronics IGERT (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship) program, which is funded by another government agency, the National Science Foundation.

Image: Courtesy of Columbia Engineering.

Follow me on twitter: @TinaMCasey.

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About the Author

Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.



  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Paul-Smith/100000097233343 Paul Smith

    Now we’re talking…

  • http://twitter.com/vetxcl T. Lester

    Yup, the future is still…..in the future.  News I can use please.

  • Gg

    To author: if you do not know, what you are writing about, please do not write it.

    • Bob_Wallace

      Great advice from someone I’m sure has never made a proofreading error.

      Oh, wait.  That comma between “know” and “what”.  

      And “do not write it”?  That’s kind of awkward…

    • http://twitter.com/vetxcl T. Lester

      Hey idiot! STF up!

  • Williamcharlesmarsh1

    You mean graphene is one atom thick, not one inch.

    • TinaCasey

       Yeah, thanks guys I blew it – wasn’t paying attention and typed in “inch” instead of “atom” in the orginal post, the correction has been made (graphene is a sheet of carbon, one atom thick).

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