Researchers have created the world’s thinnest sheet - a single atom thick - and used it to create the world’s smallest transistor, marking a breakthrough that could spark the development of super-fast computer chips.
This innovation will allow ultra small electronics to take over when the current silicon-based technology runs out of steam, according to Prof Andre Geim and Dr Kostya Novoselov from the University of Manchester.
They reveal details of transistors that are only one atom thick and fewer than 50 atoms wide in the journal, Nature Materials.
In recent decades, manufacturers have crammed more components on to microchips, with the number of transistors doubling every two years. But the ability to cram in more components is now decreasing.
Two years ago, Professor Geim and colleagues used graphite to find the real-world equivalent of a super-simple material that for the past half-century has been known only to theoreticians: a two-dimensional crystal - a single sheet of atoms. So called graphene is a gauze of carbon atoms resembling a chicken wire.