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article imageCreating tunable graphene for next-gen electronics

By Tim Sandle     Jun 3, 2019 in Technology
Much has been spoken about graphene and its remarkable properties. With electronics, to be truly useful graphene would need to carry an electric current that switches on and off, as with silicon. Researchers are devising a laser-method to do just that.
The laser technique comes from Purdue University and it is hoped the method will unlock the tough material to be used for next-generation electronics. This involves making graphene tunable, by permanently stressing the material to form a structure that enables the flow of electric current. This involves opening up the band gap to 2.1 electronvolts, a level not previously achieved.
For graphene to be fully successful this tuneability needs to occur so that graphene can carry an electric current which switches on and off, to create the strings of binary 0s and 1s that a computer uses for processing information. To achieve this a laser technique was devised to stress graphene into having a structure ("band gap") which permits the flow of electric current. To do this, a band gap of more than 0.5 electronvolts was needed - and here the researchers achieved up to 2.1 (meaning that graphene becomes tunable on a scale of zero to 2.1, depending on the application). The significance of this is that the band gap enables graphene to switch between insulating or conducting an electric current, as with other semiconductors.
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Graphene is carbon-based, light-weight, transparent, very strong and highly conductive. It is the basis of many advances, both current and potential, with electronic devices.
Commenting on the development, lead researcher Gary Cheng notes: "This is the first time that an effort has achieved such high band gaps without affecting graphene itself, such as through chemical doping. We have purely strained the material."
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The research to date has been published in the journal Advanced Materials. The research paper is titled "Asymmetric 3D Elasticā€“Plastic Strainā€Modulated Electron Energy Structure in Monolayer Graphene by Laser Shocking."
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