IBM logoIBM (NYSE: IBM) is a multinational technology and consulting corporation based in the US. IBM operates several research labs around the world and they are researching graphene related technologies - mostly graphene based transistors and photo detectors.

In July 2014, IBM launched an ambitious 5-year $3 billion research initiative to find a silicon replacement for computer chips. Graphene is one of the materials under consideration.

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The latest IBM graphene news:

IBM researchers develop a new process to produce large single-oriented single-layer graphene sheets

IBM researchers developed a new process that can be used to fabricate single-oriented, single-layer graphene at wafer-scale. The process uses two exfoliation stages, and the researchers managed to made graphene wafers 4" in size. The researchers believe that in the future graphene will replace silicon as a transistor technology (they quote Nature's estimate of 2021) - and graphene based transistors will achieve speeds of 1 Thz over the next decade.

This process uses the idea that every element in the periodic table has a different adhesion (atomic binding energy) to graphene. They start by growing graphene on a silicon carbide (SiC) substrate, and then separate the graphene from the SiC by using a stressed nickel layer. Then they perform a second exfoliation that removes any graphene in excess of a single-layer by using a thin gold layer – thus leaving only single-layer, single-oriented graphene.

Graphene-on-silicon photodetector hold promise for future data communication and other applications

Today two different teams of researchers released articles describing new advances in graphene-on-silicon based photodetectors. These devices hold promise because it could lead to more simple device fabrication - and those devices will be very fast compared to current photo detectors and be responsive to a wider range of light frequencies.

But basic graphene photodetectors suffer from low responsivity as graphene will only convert about 2% of the light passing through it to electrical current. This is a high value for an atom-thick material, but it's not enough for a real photodetector.

The Wall Street Journal reports on the graphene IP gold rush

The wall street journal posted an interesting article and video on graphene. The article discusses the current state of research and business, possible graphene applications and the rush to patent related technologies.

The article starts with the Cambridge graphene research center and then discusses several companies and their graphene programs, including IBM, Nokia, BlueStone Global Tech, Vorbeck Materials, Lockheed Martin and Aixtron.

IBM developed a graphene-based infrared detector, driven by intrinsic plasmons

IBM researchers have developed a graphene-based infrared detector, driven by intrinsic plasmons. This new design proved to be much more photo-responsive compared to non-plasmonic graphene detectors.

The researchers used CVD to grow graphene on copper foil. The copper was etched away and the graphene sheet was transferred to a silicon/silicon-oxide chip. The researchers patterned graphene ribbons (widths of 80 to 200 nm).

Plasmons lose their energy very slowly in graphene

Researchers from IBM are studying how plasmons lose their energy in graphene. It turns out that plasmons lose their energy very slowly in graphene, which is good for photonics and quantum optics applications (the longer the plasmons last, the better).

The IBM researchers are using graphene nanoribbons, dots and nanodisk arrays grown on all sorts of substrates (silicon wafers, diamond-like carbon and SiO2, to name just a few). The researchers are using a new technique (based on Fourier transform IR spectrometer) to measure exact plasmon damping mechanisms and rates. Their most important finding is that the graphene plasmons appear to interact strongly with the vibrations of the silicon dioxide substrate surface atoms on which the graphene is deposited. This leads to so-called energy-dependent hybrid plasmon-phonon modes that disperse and decay very differently compared with those modes where graphene is deposited on non-planar diamond-like substrates.