China makes breakthrough in carbon-based semiconductor materials
Published: May 27, 2020 12:08 PM

An employee showcases a semiconductor integrated circuit at an industry expo on October 31. Photo: VCG

Chinese researchers have made a breakthrough in carbon-based semiconductor materials with higher efficiency and lower costs compared to silicon-based materials, marking a step forward in the domestic chip industry.

Issues that have long troubled the preparation of carbon-based semiconductor materials have now been solved, including material purity, density and area,

according to the latest scientific research achievement by the Beijing Institute of Carbon-based Integrated Circuits, an organization engaged in the research and development (R&D) of semiconductors. 

"Carbon-based semiconductors have the advantages of lower costs, lower power consumption and higher efficiency," said Peng Lianmao, a professor with Peking University who is leading the carbon-based semiconductor project.

At present, most chips use silicon-based integrated circuit technology, and high-end chip technology has long been monopolized by foreign manufacturers.

China's imports of semiconductors have risen significantly during recent years thanks to rising domestic demand, with import value exceeding $300 billion for the first time in 2018. Nearly 85 percent of market demand depends on imports.

"Our carbon-based semiconductor research is at the world-leading level," said Peng. 

The cutting-edge technology can be applied to multiple fields including national defense, satellite navigation, weather monitoring, artificial intelligence and medical equipment. And if carbon-based technology is applied to smartphones, it will greatly extend standby time due to lower power consumption.

Carbon-based semiconductor research and industrialization are indispensable parts of China's third-generation semiconductor technology, poised to equip the country with the advantages to race ahead, industry analysts said.

Xu Haitao, head of the R&D department of the Beijing Institute of Carbon-based Integrated Circuits, told the Global Times on Wednesday that due to the gap between laboratory and factory, it will be some time before technology is upgraded for the industrial application of carbon-based semiconductors. More partners are welcomed to participate in the process to accelerate the pace.