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A phonon floodgate in monolayer carbon
Date:7/21/2008

BERKELEY, CA Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California at Berkeley have performed the first scanning tunneling spectroscopy of graphene flakes equipped with a "gate" electrode. The result is the latest in a series of surprising insights into the electronic behavior of this unique, two-dimensional crystal form of carbon: an unexpected gap-like feature in the energy spectrum of electrons tunneling into graphene's single layer of atoms.

Michael Crommie, a faculty scientist in Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division and a professor in the Department of Physics at UC Berkeley, explains that this peculiar feature of the electronic structure of graphene arises from the interaction of the tunneling electrons with phonons, the quantized vibrations of the 2-D graphene crystal, and may lead to novel applications for future graphene nanodevices.

A team led by Yuanbo Zhang, a postdoctoral fellow in Crommie's research group, discovered graphene's mysterious energy gap; the research appears in advanced online publication on the Nature Physics website at http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/nphys1022.

"Monolayer graphene flakes a single atom thick were first isolated by Andrew Geim's group at the University of Manchester, England, in 2005, and have been intensely studied since then," says Crommie. "Graphene's interesting electronic effects opens a new realm of basic science. It's an entirely new material, with new physics that could lead to new practical devices and applications. In that respect it's as promising as carbon nanotubes but graphene's planar geometry is potentially even more versatile."

Crommie says, "Because graphene is two-dimensional, it can be carved up and cut into tailored shapes, like cutting a sheet of paper." The shape might include features like narrow sections to control
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Contact: Paul Preuss
paul_preuss@lbl.gov
510-486-6249
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert  

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