A British company sees great potential in using graphene to make computer chips. The miracle material could replace silicon in the long term.
Since the first computer was introduced, chips have continued to evolve. Smartphones now do more than the largest computers in the 1990s. There is apparently no end to this trend in sight. But for some time now, a material has appeared to be emerging as a beacon of hope for the chip industry.
Simon Thomas, co-founder of the British company Paragraph, also sees it this way. The company is a leader in the application of the material and has been mass-producing graphene-based devices for some time. These include sensors for electric cars and computer chips. But what is graphene anyway?
Graphene as a long-term solution in the international chip war?
Graphene is a two-dimensional form of carbon whose atoms are arranged in a hexagonal structure. The material is currently primarily used to reinforce concrete and paint. But the material could also replace silicon in semiconductors in the long term. China, for example, has already started using graphene to take the lead in the global microchip war.
Simon Thomas sees graphene as a super material that is obtained from graphite. The entrepreneur believes that the material will fundamentally change the world. After all, it could change how everything is made. These include cell phones, computers, electric cars, healthcare goods and military equipment.
Up to 9,000 chips fit in 15 centimeters
To accommodate the change, Paragraf is currently producing 15 centimeter wafers that can hold up to 9,000 chips. The company uses graphene in two different ways: to measure magnetic fields and to convert microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses into electrical signals in the form of a biosensor. This recognizes the difference between viral and bacterial infections and determines whether a person needs antibiotics.
The UK government recently announced a £1 billion investment in the UK semiconductor industry over the next decade. This also seems important because local companies need support from the state in order to survive in tough international competition.