Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Water could hold answer to graphene nanoelectronics

Date:
October 28, 2010
Source:
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Summary:
Researchers have developed a new method for using water to tune the band gap of the nanomaterial graphene, opening the door to new graphene-based transistors and nanoelectronics. By exposing a graphene film to humidity, researchers were able to create a band gap in graphene -- a critical prerequisite to creating graphene transistors.

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute developed a new method for using water to tune the band gap of the nanomaterial graphene, opening the door to new graphene-based transistors and nanoelectronics. In this optical micrograph image, a graphene film on a silicon dioxide substrate is being electrically tested using a four-point probe.
Credit: Image courtesy of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute developed a new method for using water to tune the band gap of the nanomaterial graphene, opening the door to new graphene-based transistors and nanoelectronics.

By exposing a graphene film to humidity, Rensselaer Professor Nikhil Koratkar and his research team were able to create a band gap in graphene -- a critical prerequisite to creating graphene transistors. At the heart of modern electronics, transistors are devices that can be switched "on" or "off" to alter an electrical signal. Computer microprocessors are comprised of millions of transistors made from the semiconducting material silicon, for which the industry is actively seeking a successor.

Graphene, an atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms arranged like a nanoscale chain-link fence, has no band gap. Koratkar's team demonstrated how to open a band gap in graphene based on the amount of water they adsorbed to one side of the material, precisely tuning the band gap to any value from 0 to 0.2 electron volts. This effect was fully reversible and the band gap reduced back to zero under vacuum. The technique does not involve any complicated engineering or modification of the graphene, but requires an enclosure where humidity can be precisely controlled.

"Graphene is prized for its unique and attractive mechanical properties. But if you were to build a transistor using graphene, it simply wouldn't work as graphene acts like a semi-metal and has zero band gap," said Koratkar, a professor in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering at Rensselaer. "In this study, we demonstrated a relatively easy method for giving graphene a band gap. This could open the door to using graphene for a new generation of transistors, diodes, nanoelectronics, nanophotonics, and other applications."

Results of the study were detailed in an article recently published by the journal Small

In its natural state, graphene has a peculiar structure but no band gap. It behaves as a metal and is known as a good conductor. This is compared to rubber or most plastics, which are insulators and do not conduct electricity. Insulators have a large band gap -- an energy gap between the valence and conduction bands -- which prevents electrons from conducting freely in the material.

Between the two are semiconductors, which can function as both a conductor and an insulator. Semiconductors have a narrow band gap, and application of an electric field can provoke electrons to jump across the gap. The ability to quickly switch between the two states -- "on" and "off" -- is why semiconductors are so valuable in microelectronics.

"At the heart of any semiconductor device is a material with a band gap," Koratkar said. "If you look at the chips and microprocessors in today's cell phones, mobile devices, and computers, each contains a multitude of transistors made from semiconductors with band gaps. Graphene is a zero band gap material, which limits its utility. So it is critical to develop methods to induce a band gap in graphene to make it a relevant semiconducting material."

The symmetry of graphene's lattice structure has been identified as a reason for the material's lack of band gap. Koratkar explored the idea of breaking this symmetry by binding molecules to only one side of the graphene. To do this, he fabricated graphene on a surface of silicon and silicon dioxide, and then exposed the graphene to an environmental chamber with controlled humidity. In the chamber, water molecules adsorbed to the exposed side of the graphene, but not on the side facing the silicon dioxide. With the symmetry broken, the band gap of graphene did, indeed, open up, Koratkar said. Also contributing to the effect is the moisture interacting with defects in the silicon dioxide substrate.

"Others have shown how to create a band gap in graphene by adsorbing different gasses to its surface, but this is the first time it has been done with water," he said. "The advantage of water adsorption, compared to gasses, is that it is inexpensive, nontoxic, and much easier to control in a chip application. For example, with advances in micro-packaging technologies it is relatively straightforward to construct a small enclosure around certain parts or the entirety of a computer chip in which it would be quite easy to control the level of humidity."

Based on the humidity level in the enclosure, chip makers could reversibly tune the band gap of graphene to any value from 0 to 0.2 electron volts, Korarkar said.

This study was supported by the Advanced Energy Consortium (AEC), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Nanoelectronics Research Initiative, and the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Basic Energy Sciences (BES).


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Fazel Yavari, Christo Kritzinger, Churamani Gaire, Li Song, Hemtej Gulapalli, Theodorian Borca-Tasciuc, Pulickel M. Ajayan, Nikhil Koratkar. Tunable Bandgap in Graphene by the Controlled Adsorption of Water Molecules. Small, 2010; DOI: 10.1002/smll.201001384

Cite This Page:

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. "Water could hold answer to graphene nanoelectronics." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 October 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101026111811.htm>.
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. (2010, October 28). Water could hold answer to graphene nanoelectronics. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101026111811.htm
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. "Water could hold answer to graphene nanoelectronics." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101026111811.htm (accessed October 23, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Chameleon Camouflage to Give Tanks Cloaking Capabilities

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Inspired by the way a chameleon changes its colour to disguise itself; scientists in Poland want to replace traditional camouflage paint with thousands of electrochromic plates that will continuously change colour to blend with its surroundings. The first PL-01 concept tank prototype will be tested within a few years, with scientists predicting that a similar technology could even be woven into the fabric of a soldiers' clothing making them virtually invisible to the naked eye. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Jet Sales Lift Boeing Profit 18 Pct.

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 22, 2014) — Strong jet demand has pushed Boeing to raise its profit forecast for the third time, but analysts were disappointed by its small cash flow. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

Internet of Things Aims to Smarten Your Life

AP (Oct. 22, 2014) — As more and more Bluetooth-enabled devices are reaching consumers, developers are busy connecting them together as part of the Internet of Things. (Oct. 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
What Is Magic Leap, And Why Is It Worth $500M?

What Is Magic Leap, And Why Is It Worth $500M?

Newsy (Oct. 22, 2014) — Magic Leap isn't publicizing much more than a description of its product, but it’s been enough for Google and others to invest more than $500M. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins