Advances with graphene to conduct electricity

Posted Jun 4, 2014 by Tim Sandle
Combining black and white graphene can change the electronic properties of the one-atom thick material. This could lead to advances in electronics.
Ultra-high vacuum scanning tunneling microscopy image of a point defect in graphene that has been ep...
Ultra-high vacuum scanning tunneling microscopy image of a point defect in graphene that has been epitaxially grown on 6H-SiC(0001)
Argonne National Laboratory
Researchers have shown that the electronic properties of graphene change dramatically if graphene is placed on top of boron nitride, also known as “white graphite.” This is an important development because one of the major challenges for using graphene in electronics applications is the absence of a band gap, which basically means that graphene’s electrical conductivity cannot be switched off completely.
According to Science Newsline, by using the new material combination, this creates an additional landscape for electrons moving through graphene and, therefore, its electronic properties can change strongly.
The researchers have also found that graphene starts behaving at very low temperatures like a tiny ferromagnet. Usually, the higher the magnetic field, the more magnetic graphene become.
Both of these discoveries expand the potential applications of graphene. These stretch from microelectronics to water treatment. Graphene is considered the new "wonder material," due its durability and lightness. Graphene can be described as a one-atom thick layer of graphite.
Graphene was once thought of as existing on a continuum — think of a smooth, continuous “blanket” — but a mathematical framework shows that the blanket is composed of very tiny “fibers.” This helps to give the material its strength.
The research was carried out at the University of Manchester. The research has been published in Nature Physics. The paper is titled “'Hierarchy of Hofstadter states and replica quantum Hall ferromagnetism in graphene superlattices.'”