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Graphene: What can go wrong? new studies point to wrinkles, process contaminants
Date:7/7/2011

Using a combination of sophisticated computer modeling and advanced materials analysis techniques at synchrotron laboratories, a research team led by the University at Buffalo (UB) and including the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Molecular Foundry at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and SEMATECH* has demonstrated how some relatively simple processing flaws can seriously degrade the otherwise near-magical electronic properties of graphene.

Their new paper** demonstrates how both wrinkles in the graphene sheet and/or chance contaminants from processingpossibly hiding in those foldsdisrupt and slow electron flow across the sheet. The results could be important for the design of commercial manufacturing processes that exploit the unique electrical properties of graphene. In the case of contaminant molecules at least, the paper also suggests that heating the graphene may be a simple solution.

Graphene, a nanostructured material that is essentially a one-atom thick sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal pattern, is under intense study because of a combination of outstanding properties. It's extremely strong, conducts heat very well, and has high electrical conductivity while being flexible and transparent. Graphene's electrical properties, however, apparently depend a lot on flatness and purity.

Using X-rays, the UB team produced images that show the electron "cloud" lining the surface of graphene samplesthe structure responsible for the high-speed transit of electrons across the sheetand how wrinkles in the sheet distort the cloud and create bottlenecks. Spectrographic data showed anomalous "peaks" in some regions that also corresponded to distortions of the cloud. NIST researchers, using their dedicated materials science "beam line" at the National Synchrotron Light Source (NSLS),*** contributed a sensitive analysis of spectroscopic data confirming that these peaks were caused by chemical contaminan
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Contact: Michael Baum
baum@nist.gov
301-975-2763
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
Source:Eurekalert

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