Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


ORNL scientists help explain graphene mystery

Nanoscale simulations and theoretical research performed at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory are bringing scientists closer to realizing graphene's potential in electronic applications.

A research team led by ORNL's Bobby Sumpter, Vincent Meunier and Eduardo Cruz-Silva has discovered how loops develop in graphene, an electrically conductive high-strength low-weight material that resembles an atomic-scale honeycomb.

Structural loops that sometimes form during a graphene cleaning process can render the material unsuitable for electronic applications. Overcoming these types of problems is of great interest to the electronics industry.

"Graphene is a rising star in the materials world, given its potential for use in precise electronic components like transistors or other semiconductors," said Bobby Sumpter, a staff scientist at ORNL.

The team used quantum molecular dynamics to simulate an experimental graphene cleaning process, as discussed in a paper published in Physical Review Letters. Calculations performed on ORNL supercomputers pointed the researchers to an overlooked intermediate step during processing.

Imaging with a transmission electron microscope, or TEM, subjected the graphene to electron irradiation, which ultimately prevented loop formation. The ORNL simulations showed that by injecting electrons to collect an image, the electrons were simultaneously changing the material's structure.

"Taking a picture with a TEM is not merely taking a picture," Sumpter said. "You might modify the picture at the same time that you're looking at it."

The research builds on findings discussed in a 2009 Science paper (Jia et al.), where Meunier and Sumpter helped demonstrate a process that cleans graphene edges by running a current through the material in a process known as Joule heating. Graphene is only as good as the uniformity or cleanliness of its edges, which determine how effectively the material can transmit electrons. Meunier said the ability to efficiently clean graphene edges is crucial to using the material in electronics.

"Imagine you have a fancy sports car, but then you realize it has square wheels. What good is it? That's like having jagged edges on graphene," Meunier said.

Recent experimental studies have shown that the Joule heating process can lead to undesirable loops that connect different graphene layers. The PRL paper provides an atomistic understanding of how electron irradiation from a transmission electron microscope affects the graphene cleaning process by preventing loop formation.

"We can clean the edges, and not only that, we're able to understand why we can clean them," Meunier said.

The research team included scientists from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Universite Catholique de Louvain and Carlos III University of Madrid. Sumpter and Meunier are members of ORNL's Computer Science and Mathematics division with appointments in the Nanomaterials Theory Institute within the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences. Cruz-Silva is a post-doctoral researcher at ORNL.

Part of this work was supported by the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences (CNMS) at ORNL. CNMS is one of the five DOE Nanoscale Science Research Centers supported by the DOE Office of Science, premier national user facilities for interdisciplinary research at the nanoscale. Together the NSRCs comprise a suite of complementary facilities that provide researchers with state-of-the-art capabilities to fabricate, process, characterize and model nanoscale materials, and constitute the largest infrastructure investment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The NSRCs are located at DOE's Argonne, Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Oak Ridge and Sandia and Los Alamos national laboratories. For more information about the DOE NSRCs, please visit ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy's Office of Science.

Morgan McCorkle | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht A new kind of quantum bits in two dimensions
19.03.2018 | Vienna University of Technology

nachricht 'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region
16.03.2018 | American Institute of Physics

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

A new kind of quantum bits in two dimensions

19.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Scientists have a new way to gauge the growth of nanowires

19.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>