For all the promise of graphene as a material for next-generation electronics and quantum computing, scientists still don't know enough about this high-performance conductor to effectively control an electric current.
Graphene, a one-atom-thick layer of carbon, conducts electricity so efficiently that the electrons are difficult to control. And control will be necessary before this wonder material can be used to make nanoscale transistors or other devices.
A new study by a research group at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) will help. The group has identified new characteristics of electron transport in a two-dimensional sheet of graphene layered on top of a semiconductor.
The researchers demonstrated that when electrons are rerouted at the interface of the graphene and its semiconducting substrate, they encounter what's known as a Schottky barrier. If it's deep enough, electrons don't pass, unless rectified by applying an electric field – a promising mechanism for turning a graphene-based device on and off.
The group also found, however, another feature of graphene that affects the height of the barrier. Intrinsic ripples form on graphene when it is placed on top of a semiconductor.
The research group, led by Lian Li and Michael Weinert, UWM professors of physics, and Li's graduate student Shivani Rajput, conducted their experiment with the semiconductor silicon carbide. The results were published in the Nov. 21 issue of Nature Communications.
The ripples are analogous to the waviness of a sheet of paper that has been wetted and then dried. Except in this case, notes Weinert, the thickness of the sheet is less than one nanometer (a billionth of a meter).
"Our study says that ripples affect the barrier height and even if there's a small variation in it, the results will be a large change in the electron transport," says Li.
The barrier needs to be the same height across the whole sheet in order to ensure that the current is either on or off, he adds.
"This is a cautionary tale," says Weinert, whose calculations provided the theoretical analysis. "If you're going to use graphene for electronics, you will encounter this phenomenon that you will have to engineer around."
With multiple conditions affecting the barrier, more work is necessary to determine which semiconductors would be best suited to use for engineering a transistor with graphene.
The work also presents opportunity. The ability to control the conditions impacting the barrier will allow conduction in three dimensions, rather than along a simple plane. This 3D conduction will be necessary for scientists to create more complicated nano-devices, says Weinert.
Other contributors on the paper include Mingxing Chen, postdoctoral researcher working with Weinert, Yaoyi Li and Ying Liu, postdoctoral researchers in the Li lab (Liu is now at the Institute for Quantum Computing in Waterloo, Canada.)
Lian Li | EurekAlert!
From ancient fossils to future cars
21.10.2016 | University of California - Riverside
Study explains strength gap between graphene, carbon fiber
20.10.2016 | Rice University
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.
"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...
COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...
'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.
Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine
21.10.2016 | Information Technology
21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences