It is the marriage of two top candidates for the electronics of the future, both excentric and extremely interesting: Graphene, one of the partners, is an extremely thin fellow and besides, very young. Not until 2004 was it possible to specifically produce and investigate the single layer of carbon atoms.
Its electronic properties are remarkable, because, among other things, its electrons can move so tremendously fast. It is a perfect partner for gallium arsenide, the semiconductor that allows tailoring of its electrical properties and which is the starting material of the fastest electrical and opto-electronic components. Besides, it is possible to produce gallium arsenide with an atomic-layer-smooth surface; this should suit well as a support for graphene.
Scientists of the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB) have now, with the aid of a special design, succeeded in making graphene visible on gallium arsenide. Previously it has only been possible on silicon oxide. Now that they are able to view with a light optical microscope the graphene layer, which is thinner than one thousandth of a light wavelength, the researchers want to measure the electrical properties of their new material combination. As experts for precision measurements, the PTB physicists are thus especially well equipped to do this.
The normally practically invisible single-carbon-atom layers can be made visible under a normal light (optical) microscope, if the support (layer) is designed as an anti-reflection filter. Single-layer graphene was identified inside the markings. They use the principle of the anti-reflective layer: If on a material one superimposes a very thin, nearly transparent layer of another material, then the reflectivity of the lower layer changes clearly visibly. In order to make their lower layer of gallium arsenide (plus graphene atomic layer) visible, the PTB physicists chose aluminium arsenide (AlAs). However, it is so similar to gallium arsenide (GaAs) in its optical properties that they had to employ a few tricks: They vapour-coated not only one, but rather several wafer-thin layers. "Thus, even with optically similar materials it is possible, in a manner of speaking, to 'grow' interference effects", Dr. Franz-Josef Ahlers, the responsible department head at PTB, explained. "This principle is known from optical interference filters. We have adapted it for our purposes".
First of all, he and his colleagues calculated the optical properties of different GaAs and AlAs layers and optimized the layer sequence such that they could expect a sufficiently good detectability of graphene. Following this recipe, they got down to action and with the molecular beam epitaxial facility of PTB accurately produced a corresponding GaAs/AlAs crystal atom layer. Then in the same procedure as with silicon oxide, it was overlaid with graphite fragments. "Different from silicon but as predicted by the calculation, although single carbon layers are no longer visible at all wavelengths of visible light, it is, however, possible, e.g. with a simple green filter, to limit the wavelength range such that the graphene is easily visible", explained Ahlers. In the photo, all lighter areas of the dark GaAs are covered with graphene. From the degree of lightening it is possible to conclude the number of individual layers of atoms. The marked areas are 'real', that is, single-layer graphene. But next to them, there are also two, three and multiple layers of carbon atoms, which also have interesting properties. This arrangement was confirmed again with another method, Raman spectroscopy.
Following such a simple identification with a normal light optical microscope, the further steps in the manufacture of electrical components from graphene surfaces are now possible without any difficulty. Thus the PTB scientists can now begin to accurately measure the electrical properties of the new material combination.
Dr. Franz Josef Ahlers | EurekAlert!
Engineering team images tiny quasicrystals as they form
18.08.2017 | Cornell University
Astrophysicists explain the mysterious behavior of cosmic rays
18.08.2017 | Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology
Whether you call it effervescent, fizzy, or sparkling, carbonated water is making a comeback as a beverage. Aside from quenching thirst, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have discovered a new use for these "bubbly" concoctions that will have major impact on the manufacturer of the world's thinnest, flattest, and one most useful materials -- graphene.
As graphene's popularity grows as an advanced "wonder" material, the speed and quality at which it can be manufactured will be paramount. With that in mind,...
Physicists at the University of Bonn have managed to create optical hollows and more complex patterns into which the light of a Bose-Einstein condensate flows. The creation of such highly low-loss structures for light is a prerequisite for complex light circuits, such as for quantum information processing for a new generation of computers. The researchers are now presenting their results in the journal Nature Photonics.
Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are...
For the first time, scientists have shown that circular RNA is linked to brain function. When a RNA molecule called Cdr1as was deleted from the genome of mice, the animals had problems filtering out unnecessary information – like patients suffering from neuropsychiatric disorders.
While hundreds of circular RNAs (circRNAs) are abundant in mammalian brains, one big question has remained unanswered: What are they actually good for? In the...
An experimental small satellite has successfully collected and delivered data on a key measurement for predicting changes in Earth's climate.
The Radiometer Assessment using Vertically Aligned Nanotubes (RAVAN) CubeSat was launched into low-Earth orbit on Nov. 11, 2016, in order to test new...
A study led by scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg presents evidence of the coexistence of superconductivity and “charge-density-waves” in compounds of the poorly-studied family of bismuthates. This observation opens up new perspectives for a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of high-temperature superconductivity, a topic which is at the core of condensed matter research since more than 30 years. The paper by Nicoletti et al has been published in the PNAS.
Since the beginning of the 20th century, superconductivity had been observed in some metals at temperatures only a few degrees above the absolute zero (minus...
16.08.2017 | Event News
04.08.2017 | Event News
26.07.2017 | Event News
18.08.2017 | Life Sciences
18.08.2017 | Physics and Astronomy
18.08.2017 | Materials Sciences