Nanocircuitry with semiconducting graphene nanoribbons

Nanocircuitry with semiconducting graphene nanoribbons

10:18 AM, 17th October 2015
Nanocircuitry with semiconducting graphene nanoribbons
Researchers at Argonne’s Center for Nanoscale Materials have confirmed the growth of self-directed graphene nanoribbons on the surface of the semiconducting material germanium by researchers at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

LEMONT, US: In a development that could revolutionize electronic ciruitry, a research team from the University of Wisconsin at Madison (UW) and the US Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) has confirmed a new way to control the growth paths of graphene nanoribbons on the surface of a germainum crystal.

Germanium is a semiconductor, and this method provides a straight forward way to make semiconducting nanoscale circuits from graphene, a form of carbon only one atom thick.

The method was discovered by UW scientists and confirmed in tests at Argonne.

"Some researchers have wanted to make transistors out of carbon nanotubes, but the problem is that they grow in all sorts of directions," said Brian Kiraly of Argonne. "The innovation here is that you can grow these along circuit paths that work for your tech."

UW researchers used chemical vapour deposition to grow graphene nanoribbons on germanium crystals. This technique flows a mixture of methane, hydrogen, and argon gases into a tube furnace. At high temperatures, methane decomposes into carbon atoms that settle onto the germanium's surface to form a uniform graphene sheet. By adjusting the chamber's settings, the UW team was able to exert very precise control over the material.

What we’ve discovered is that when graphene grows on germanium, it naturally forms nanoribbons with these very smooth, armchair edges,” said Michael Arnold, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at UW-Madison.

We’re looking at fundamental physical properties to verify that it is, in fact, graphene and it shows some characteristic electronic properties,” said Kiraly. “What’s even more interesting is that these nanoribbons can be made to grow in certain directions on one side of the germanium crystal, but not the other two sides.”

For use in electronic devices, the semiconductor industry is primarily interested in three faces of a germanium crystal. Depicting these faces in terms of coordinates (X,Y,Z), where single atoms connect to each other in a diamond-like grid structure, each face of a crystal (1,1,1) will have axes that differ from one (1,1,0) to the other (1,0,0).

Previous research shows that graphene sheets can grow on germanium crystal faces (1,1,1) and (1,1,0). However, this is the first time any study has recorded the growth of graphene nanoribbons on the (1,0,0) face.

As their investigations continue, researchers can now focus their efforts on exactly why self-directed graphene nanoribbons grow on the (1,0,0) face and determine if there is any unique interaction between the germanium and graphene that may play a role.

This research is published in the journal Nature Communications.

The method for this work was led by Michael Arnold’s advanced materials for energy and electronics group at UW-Madison. Confirmation of findings was led by Nathan Guisinger and Brian Kiraly at the center for nanoscale materials at Argonne National Laboratory. Additional co-authors include Robert Jacobberger, Matthieu Fortin-Deschenes, Pierre Levesque, Kyle McElhinny, Gerald Brady, Richard Rojas Delgado, Susmit Singha Roy, Andrew Mannix, Max Lagally, Paul Evans, Patrick Desjardins, Richard Martel and Mark Hersam.

This work was supported in part by the US Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council, the University of Wisconsin Materials Research Science and Engineering Center, the Department of Defense Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the National Science Foundation’s graduate research fellowships.

© Argonne National Laboratory News

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