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article imageAdvancements with graphene for conductivity

By Tim Sandle     Aug 13, 2014 in Science
Researchers have discovered that the conductivity at the edges of graphene devices is different to the central material.
Researchers used local scanning electrical techniques to examine the local nanoscale electronic properties of graphene. They focused on the differences between the edges and central parts of graphene.
Graphene is a single-layer mesh of carbon atoms. 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 is apparently the perfect material for a new generation of flexible displays, wearables, and other electronic devices and presents great potential for both the electronics and medical sectors.
With the new research, the researchers found that the central part of the graphene channel demonstrated electron conduction (described as “n-doped”), whereas the edges demonstrated hole conduction (described as “p-doped”). They were also able to precisely tune the conduction along the edges of the graphene devices using side-gates, without affecting the conductive properties at the center. The effects were greatest just after the graphene had been cleaned.
Although both n- and p-type semiconductors conduct electricity, different types of conduction is appropriate for different devices. Graphene is increasingly used in the electronics industry and new devices will need to accommodate these differences.
In particular, the results of this study are useful for developing graphene nanoribbon devices. The researchers plan to extend their work by investigating these effects in structurally different forms of graphene. In doing so, they will be able to compare different types of graphene and look more closely at the cause of these effects.
The research was carried out at the National Physical Laboratory in the U.K. The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports. The research is titled “Visualisation of edge effects in side-gated graphene nanodevices.”
In related research, physicists 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.
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