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How graphene's electrical properties can be tuned
Date:9/26/2011

RIVERSIDE, Calif. An accidental discovery in a physicist's laboratory at the University of California, Riverside provides a unique route for tuning the electrical properties of graphene, nature's thinnest elastic material. This route holds great promise for replacing silicon with graphene in the microchip industry.

The researchers found that stacking up three layers of graphene, like pancakes, significantly modifies the material's electrical properties. When they fabricated trilayer graphene in the lab and measured its conductance, they found, to their surprise, that depending on how the layers were stacked some of the trilayer graphene devices were conducting while others were insulating.

"What we stumbled upon is a simple and convenient 'knob' for tuning graphene sheets' electrical properties," said Jeanie Lau, an associate professor of physics and astronomy, whose lab made the serendipitous finding.

Study results appeared online Sept. 25 in Nature Physics.

Graphene is a one-atom thick sheet of carbon atoms arranged in hexagonal rings. Bearing excellent material properties, such as high current-carrying capacity and thermal conductivity, this "wonder material" is ideally suited for creating components for semiconductor circuits and computers.

Because of the planar and chicken wire-like structure of graphene, its sheets lend themselves well to stacking in what is called 'Bernal stacking,' the stacking fashion of graphene sheets.

In a Bernal-stacked bilayer, one corner of the hexagons of the second sheet is located above the center of the hexagons of the bottom sheet. In Bernal-stacked trilayer (ABA), the top (third) sheet is exactly on top of the lowest sheet. In rhombohedral-stacked (ABC) trilayer, the top sheet is shifted by the distance of an atom, so that the top (third) sheet and the
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Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala
iqbal@ucr.edu
951-827-6050
University of California - Riverside
Source:Eurekalert  

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