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article imageWild graphene 'tamed' for new electronic devices

By Tim Sandle     Oct 26, 2017 in Science
A new discovery concerning the controlling of electrons in the 'super'- material graphene could lead to the future production of novel electronic devices.
Graphene, as Digital Journal has reported on several occasions, is a material with many special properties. The one-atom thick layers are very strong, very lightweight, and transparent and possess excellent conductive properties. Here graphene is a better conductor of electricity than copper.
On paper, graphene is an ideal material for the manufacture of next generation electronic devices. There’s one downside, however, and that is the electrons that flow through graphene cannot be halted: they proceed at a fast velocity in a straight-line.
This limitation appears to have been overcome through a new study. Researchers from Rutgers University-New Brunswick have discovered the means to tame the electrons in graphene. The method of ‘taming’ the electrons was achieved through pushing voltage through a high-technology microscope that came equipped with a very sharp tip - the size of one atom. The special tip creates a type of force field that traps electrons in the graphene or it can be used to modify the trajectories of the electrons. This is the basis of the switching-on, switching-off mechanism.
This discovery is of significance because it allows for the ultra-fast transport of electrons while simultaneously leading to only a low loss of energy in novel systems. Research is continuing to find a way to scale-up the process. The research into scale-up involves the application of nano-wires, fitted onto the top of sheets of graphene.
Discussing the implications further, with Laboratory Manager magazine, lead researcher Dr. Eva Y. Andrei said: “This shows we can electrically control the electrons in graphene. In the past, we couldn’t do it. This is the reason people thought that one could not make devices like transistors that require switching with graphene, because their electrons run wild.”
This means it is now possible to develop a graphene nano-scale transistor, which is the basis of an all-graphene electronics platform. This paves the way for things like flat, foldable flexible screen and paintable electronic systems.
The new research has been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. The new research is titled “Tuning a circular p–n junction in graphene from quantum confinement to optical guiding.”
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