Lest you don't care what your circuits are made of, listen up: graphene's the thinnest electrical material, comprising just a single atomic layer. In addition to its electrical, thermal, mechanical, and optical properties, researchers dig it because it has the potential to be less expensive, more energy-efficient, and more compact than your garden-variety silicon. So imagine IBM's delight when a team of company researchers built the first circuit that fits all the components, including inductors and a graphene transistor, on a single wafer -- a setup that consumes less space than a grain of salt. The advantage, scientists say, is better performance than what you'd get from a circuit combining a graphene transistor with external components. In fact, the researchers got the circuit's broadband frequency mixer to operate at 10GHz , a feat that could have implications for wireless gadgets running the gamut from Bluetooth headsets to RFID
tags. That's all just a layman's explanation, of course -- check out the latest issue of Science
for the full paper in all of its technical glory.