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Seeing an atomic thickness

Date:
May 25, 2011
Source:
National Physical Laboratory
Summary:
Scientists in the UK and Sweden have shown that regions of graphene of different thickness can be easily identified in ambient conditions using electrostatic force microscopy.

The left hand image is the topography; the middle the topography error image; and right the electrostatic force microscopy image where the tip bias has been switched half way through the image.
Credit: Image courtesy of National Physical Laboratory

Scientists from the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), in collaboration with Linkφping University, Sweden, have shown that regions of graphene of different thickness can be easily identified in ambient conditions using Electrostatic Force Microscopy (EFM).

The exciting properties of graphene are usually only applicable to the material that consists of one or two layers of the graphene sheets. Whilst synthesis of any number of layers is possible, the thicker layers have properties closer to the more common bulk graphite.

For device applications one- and two-layer graphene needs to be precisely identified apart from the substrate and regions of thicker graphene.

Exfoliated graphene sheets up to ~100 μm in size can be routinely identified by optical microscopy. However, the situation is much more complicated in the case of the epitaxial graphene grown on silicon carbide wafers with a diameter up to 5 inches where the straightforward identification of the graphene thickness is difficult using standard techniques.

This research shows that EFM, which is one of the most widely accessible and simplest implementations of scanning probe microscopy, can clearly identify different graphene thicknesses.

The technique can also be used in ambient environments applicable to industrial requirements.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Physical Laboratory. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tim Burnett, Rositza Yakimova, Olga Kazakova. Mapping of Local Electrical Properties in Epitaxial Graphene Using Electrostatic Force Microscopy. Nano Letters, 2011; 110428133938092 DOI: 10.1021/nl200581g

Cite This Page:

National Physical Laboratory. "Seeing an atomic thickness." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 May 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110524094507.htm>.
National Physical Laboratory. (2011, May 25). Seeing an atomic thickness. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110524094507.htm
National Physical Laboratory. "Seeing an atomic thickness." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110524094507.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

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