Silicon chips are so 20th century, since carbon is destined to take over where silicon let off in the 21st century. Within a decade, the semiconductor baton will be passed to carbon-based technologies that are faster, cooler running and actually work better the smaller you make them! R.C.J.
Carbon--the basis of all organic compounds--appears destined to supplant silicon as the material of choice for future semiconductors. According to researchers, various structures based on the element that sits just above silicon on the Periodic Table can surpass silicon's abilities in thermal performance, frequency range and perhaps even superconductivity. Three-dimensional carbon--diamond--offers 10 times the heat dissipation of silicon, according to suppliers currently hawking 40-nanometer to 15-micron diamond films on silicon wafers. Two-dimensional carbon--3-angstrom-thick monolayers called graphene--could dismantle silicon's roadblock to terahertz performance by attaining 10 times the electron mobility of silicon.