A new use may have been discovered for thin layers of graphite, known as graphene, which has a range of potential applications in electronics.
Researchers at the University of Georgia have discovered that the unique properties of graphene could replace copper for interconnects in future generations of integrated circuits (ICs).
The results suggest that graphene may out-perform copper within on-chip interconnects, which are used to connect transistors and other devices.
Raghunath Murali, a research engineer at the university, explained: "As you make copper interconnects narrower and narrower, the resistivity increases as the true nanoscale properties of the material become apparent.
He added: "Under real-world conditions, our graphene interconnects probably already out-perform copper at this size scale."
Graphene interconnects are also said to potentially offer higher electron mobility, better thermal conductivity and higher mechanical strength.
The University of Georgia recently collaborated with the National Institute of Standards and Technology to directly measure graphene's unusual energy spectrum.