Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Controlling silicon evaporation allows scientists to boost graphene quality

23.09.2011
Growing graphene

Scientists from the Georgia Institute of Technology have for the first time provided details of their "confinement controlled sublimation" technique for growing high-quality layers of epitaxial graphene on silicon carbide wafers. The technique relies on controlling the vapor pressure of gas-phase silicon in the high-temperature furnace used for fabricating the material.

The basic principle for growing thin layers of graphene on silicon carbide requires heating the material to about 1,500 degrees Celsius under high vacuum. The heat drives off the silicon, leaving behind one or more layers of graphene. But uncontrolled evaporation of silicon can produce poor quality material useless to designers of electronic devices.

"For growing high-quality graphene on silicon carbide, controlling the evaporation of silicon at just the right temperature is essential," said Walt de Heer, a professor who pioneered the technique in the Georgia Tech School of Physics. "By precisely controlling the rate at which silicon comes off the wafer, we can control the rate at which graphene is produced. That allows us to produce very nice layers of epitaxial graphene."

De Heer and his team begin by placing a silicon carbide wafer into an enclosure made of graphite. A small hole in the container controls the escape of silicon atoms as the one-square-centimeter wafer is heated, maintaining the rate of silicon evaporation and condensation near its thermal equilibrium. The growth of epitaxial graphene can be done in a vacuum or in the presence of an inert gas such as argon, and can be used to produce both single layers and multiple layers of the material.

"This technique seems to be completely in line with what people might one day do in fabrication facilities," de Heer said. "We believe this is quite significant in allowing us to rationally and reproducibly grow graphene on silicon carbide. We feel we now understand the process, and believe it could be scaled up for electronics manufacturing."

The technique for growing large-area layers of epitaxial graphene was described this week in the Early Edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research has been supported by the National Science Foundation through the Georgia Tech Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, and the W.M. Keck

Foundation.

The paper also describes a technique for growing narrow graphene ribbons, a process de Heer's group has called "templated growth." That technique, which could be useful for making graphene interconnects, was first described in October 2010 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

The templated growth technique involves etching patterns into silicon carbide surfaces using conventional nanolithography processes. The patterns serve as templates directing the growth of graphene structures on portions of the patterned surfaces. The technique forms nanoribbons of specific widths without the use of electron beams or other destructive cutting techniques. Graphene nanoribbons produced with these templates have smooth edges that avoid problems with electron scattering.

Together, the two techniques provide researchers with the flexibility to produce graphene in forms appropriate to different needs, de Heer noted. Large-area sheets of graphene may be grown on both the carbon-terminated and silicon-terminated sides of a silicon carbide wafer, while the narrow ribbons may be grown on the silicon-terminated side. Because of different processing techniques, only one side of a particular wafer can be used.

The Georgia Tech research team - which includes Claire Berger, Ming Ruan, Mike Sprinkle, Xuebin Li, Yike Hu, Baiqian Zhang, John Hankinson and Edward Conrad – has so far fabricated structures as narrow as 10 nanometers using the templated growth technique. These nanowires exhibit interesting quantum transport properties.

"We can make very good quantum wires using the templated growth technique," de Heer said. "We can make large structures and devices that demonstrate the Quantum Hall Effect, which is important for many applications. We have demonstrated that templated growth can go all the way down to the nanoscale, and that the properties get even better there."

Development of the sublimation technique arose from efforts to protect the growing graphene from oxygen and other contaminants in the furnace. To address the quality concerns, the research team tried enclosing the wafer in a graphite container from which some silicon gas was permitted to leak out.

"We soon realized that graphene grown in the container was much better than what we had been producing," de Heer recalled. "Originally, we thought it was because we were protecting it from contaminants. Later, we realized it was because we were controlling the evaporation of silicon."

Epitaxial graphene may be the basis for a new generation of high-performance devices that will take advantage of the material's unique properties in applications where higher costs can be justified. Silicon, today's electronic material of choice, will continue to be used in applications where high-performance is not required, de Heer said.

Though researchers are still struggling to design nanometer-scale epitaxial graphene devices that take advantage of the material's unique properties, de Heer is confident that will ultimately be done.

"These techniques allow us to make accurate nanostructures and seem to be very promising for making the nanoscale devices that we need," he said. "While there are serious challenges ahead for using graphene in electronics, we have overcome roadblocks before."

John Toon | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.gatech.edu

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

Im Focus: Basel researchers succeed in cultivating cartilage from stem cells

Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.

Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Structured light and nanomaterials open new ways to tailor light at the nanoscale

23.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

On the shape of the 'petal' for the dissipation curve

23.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Clean and Efficient – Fraunhofer ISE Presents Hydrogen Technologies at the HANNOVER MESSE 2018

23.04.2018 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>