Dr. Cory Dean, assistant professor of physics at The City College of New York, is the lead author of a paper published today in the journal Science that demonstrates it is possible for an atomically thin two-dimensional (2D) material to have electrical contact along its one-dimensional (1D) edge. The contact architecture offers a new assembly technique for layered materials that prevents contamination at interfaces.
Professor Dean conducted the research as a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University, working with Professor of Electrical Engineering Ken Shepard and Professor of Mechanical Engineering James Hone, the paper's co-authors. The new method, which was developed using graphene as the two-dimensional model, resulted in the cleanest graphene produced to date.
"Two-dimensional materials such as graphene, which are just one atom thick, can have their electrical properties externally modified," Professor Dean said. "However, because the materials are extremely sensitive to the environment, any external contamination quickly degrades performance."
The need to protect the material from contamination while still allowing electrical access has been a roadblock to development of graphene-based technologies, he added. "By making contact only to the 1D edge of graphene, we have developed a fundamentally new way to bridge our 3D world to this fascinating 2D world without disturbing its inherent properties. This virtually eliminates external contamination and finally allows graphene to show its true potential in electronic devices."
"Our novel edge-contact geometry provides more efficient contact than the conventional geometry without the need for further complex processing," added Professor Shepard. "There are now many more possibilities in the pursuit of both device applications and the pure physics of clean systems."
The researchers fully encapsulated the 2D graphene layer in a sandwich of thin insulating boron
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City College of New York