Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Rice technique points toward 2-D devices

28.01.2013
Researchers create fine patterns that combine single-atom-thick graphene, boron nitride

Rice University scientists have taken an important step toward the creation of two-dimensional electronics with a process to make patterns in atom-thick layers that combine a conductor and an insulator.

The materials at play – graphene and hexagonal boron nitride – have been merged into sheets and built into a variety of patterns at nanoscale dimensions.

Rice introduced a technique to stitch the identically structured materials together nearly three years ago. Since then, the idea has received a lot of attention from researchers interested in the prospect of building 2-D, atomic-layer circuits, said Rice materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan. He is one of the authors of the new work that appears this week in Nature Nanotechnology. In particular, Ajayan noted that Cornell University scientists reported an advance late last year on the art of making atomic-layer heterostructures through sequential growth schemes.

This week's contribution by Rice offers manufacturers the possibility of shrinking electronic devices into even smaller packages. While Rice's technical capabilities limited features to a resolution of about 100 nanometers, the only real limits are those defined by modern lithographic techniques, according to the researchers. (A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.)

"It should be possible to make fully functional devices with circuits 30, even 20 nanometers wide, all in two dimensions," said Rice researcher Jun Lou, a co-author of the new paper. That would make circuits on about the same scale as in current semiconductor fabrication, he said.

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material since its discovery in the last decade. Even at one atom thick, the hexagonal array of carbon atoms has proven its potential as a fascinating electronic material. But to build a working device, conductors alone will not do. Graphene-based electronics require similar, compatible 2-D materials for other components, and researchers have found hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) works nicely as an insulator.

H-BN looks like graphene, with the same chicken-wire atomic array. The earlier work at Rice showed that merging graphene and h-BN via chemical vapor deposition (CVD) created sheets with pools of the two that afforded some control of the material's electronic properties. Ajayan said at the time that the creation offered "a great playground for materials scientists."

He has since concluded that the area of two-dimensional materials beyond graphene "has grown significantly and will play out as one of the key exciting materials in the near future."

His prediction bears fruit in the new work, in which finely detailed patterns of graphene are laced into gaps created in sheets of h-BN. Combs, bars, concentric rings and even microscopic Rice Owls were laid down through a lithographic process. The interface between elements, seen clearly in scanning transmission electron microscope images taken at Oak Ridge National Laboratories, shows a razor-sharp transition from graphene to h-BN along a subnanometer line.

"This is not a simple quilt," Lou said. "It's very precisely engineered. We can control the domain sizes and the domain shapes, both of which are necessary to make electronic devices."

The new technique also began with CVD. Lead author Zheng Liu, a Rice research scientist, and his colleagues first laid down a sheet of h-BN. Laser-cut photoresistant masks were placed over the h-BN, and exposed material was etched away with argon gas. (A focused ion beam system was later used to create even finer patterns, down to 100-nanometer resolution, without masks.) After the masks were washed away, graphene was grown via CVD in the open spaces, where it bonded edge-to-edge with the h-BN. The hybrid layer could then be picked up and placed on any substrate.

While there's much work ahead to characterize the atomic bonds where graphene and h-BN domains meet and to analyze potential defects along the boundaries, Liu's electrical measurements proved the components' qualities remain intact.

"One important thing Zheng showed is that even by doing all kinds of growth, then etching, then regrowth, the intrinsic properties of these two materials are not affected," Lou said. "Insulators stay insulators; they're not doped by the carbon. And the graphene still looks very good. That's important, because we want to be sure what we're growing is exactly what we want."

Liu said the next step is to place a third element, a semiconductor, into the 2-D fabric. "We're trying very hard to integrate this into the platform," he said. "If we can do that, we can build truly integrated in-plane devices." That would give new options to manufacturers toying with the idea of flexible electronics, he said.

"The contribution of this paper is to demonstrate the general process," Lou added. "It's robust, it's repeatable and it creates materials with very nice properties and with dimensions that are at the limit of what is possible."

Co-authors of the paper are graduate students Lulu Ma, Gang Shi, Yongji Gong, Ken Hackenberg, Sidong Lei and Jiangnan Zhang; Aydin Babakhani, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering; and Robert Vajtai, a faculty fellow in mechanical engineering and materials science, all at Rice; Wu Zhou, a research associate at Vanderbilt University and Wigner Fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory; Xuebei Yang, a former research assistant at Rice, now at Agilent Technologies; Jingjiang Yu, a scientist at Agilent Technologies; and Juan-Carlos Idrobo, a research professor of physics at Vanderbilt and a guest scientist at Oak Ridge. Lou is an associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science. Ajayan is the Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and of chemistry at Rice.

The work was supported by U.S. Army Research Office and U.S. Office of Naval Research Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative grants; the Nanoelectronics Research Corp; a U.S.-Japan Cooperative Research and Education in Terahertz grant; the Welch Foundation; the National Science Foundation; and Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Shared Research Equipment User Program, sponsored by the Office of Basic Energy Sciences, U.S. Department of Energy.

This news release can be found online at news.rice.edu.

Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews

Related Materials:

Lou Group: http://mems.rice.edu/~jlou/

Ajayan Group: http://www.owlnet.rice.edu/~rv4/Ajayan/

Graphene and boron nitride lateral heterostructures for atomically thin circuitry: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v488/n7413/full/nature11408.html

Images for download:

http://news.rice.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/G-hBN-1-WEB.jpg

A photolithography process was used at Rice University to develop a patterned, one-atom-thick hybrid of graphene and hexagonal boron nitride (hBN). Graphene is a conductor and hBN is an insulator, so the 2-D material has unique electrical properties. (Credit: Zheng Liu/Rice University)

http://news.rice.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/G-hBN-2-WEB.jpg

A scanning transmission electron microscope image shows a razor-sharp transition between the hexagonal boron nitride domain at top left and graphene at bottom right in the 2-D hybrid material created at Rice University. (Credit: Oak Ridge National Laboratories/Rice University)

http://news.rice.edu/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/G-hBN-3-WEB.jpg

An atom-thick Rice Owl (scale bar equals 100 micrometers) was created to show the ability to make fine patterns in hybrid graphene/hexagonal boron nitride (hBN). In this image, the owl is hBN and the lighter material around it is graphene. The ability to pattern a conductor (graphene) and insulator (hBN) into a single layer may advance the ability to shrink electronic devices. (Credit: Zheng Liu/Rice University)

Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,708 undergraduates and 2,374 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 2 for "best value" among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to http://tinyurl.com/AboutRice.

David Ruth | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.rice.edu

More articles from Interdisciplinary Research:

nachricht Coastal wetlands excel at storing carbon
01.02.2017 | University of Maryland

nachricht The Attraction Effect: how our Brains Can Be Influenced
30.01.2017 | Universität Basel

All articles from Interdisciplinary Research >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Switched-on DNA

20.02.2017 | Materials Sciences

Second cause of hidden hearing loss identified

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

Prospect for more effective treatment of nerve pain

20.02.2017 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>