Life on Earth could have evolved from silicon—the same as today's microchips—but natural selection instead evolved carbon-based life. Now human engineers are realizing that the same principles that enabled life to emerge from carbon compounds could also solve the problems facing future electronics. Look for carbon microchips to begin supplanting silicon over the coming decade. R.C.J.
Silicon microchips are the mainstay of all current electronic devices today, but could soon be replaced by carbon-based microchips that harness carbon's higher speed but without generating the excess heat plaguing silicon chips today. To prove the point, IBM Research recently demonstrated the world's fastest carbon transistor for the Carbon Electronics for RF Applications (CERA) program--a 100GHz model more than 20 times faster than the silicon CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductors) transistors used today.
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