HOUSTON (Jan. 28, 2013) Rice University scientists have taken an important step toward the creation of two-dimensional electronics with a process to make patterns in atom-thick layers that combine a conductor and an insulator.
The materials at play graphene and hexagonal boron nitride have been merged into sheets and built into a variety of patterns at nanoscale dimensions.
Rice introduced a technique to stitch the identically structured materials together nearly three years ago. Since then, the idea has received a lot of attention from researchers interested in the prospect of building 2-D, atomic-layer circuits, said Rice materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan. He is one of the authors of the new work that appears this week in Nature Nanotechnology. In particular, Ajayan noted that Cornell University scientists reported an advance late last year on the art of making atomic-layer heterostructures through sequential growth schemes.
This week's contribution by Rice offers manufacturers the possibility of shrinking electronic devices into even smaller packages. While Rice's technical capabilities limited features to a resolution of about 100 nanometers, the only real limits are those defined by modern lithographic techniques, according to the researchers. (A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.)
"It should be possible to make fully functional devices with circuits 30, even 20 nanometers wide, all in two dimensions," said Rice researcher Jun Lou, a co-author of the new paper. That would make circuits on about the same scale as in current semiconductor fabrication, he said.
Graphene has been touted as a wonder material since its discovery in the last decade. Even at one atom thick, the hexagonal array of carbon atoms has proven its potential as a fascinating electronic material. But to build a working device, conductors alone will not do. Graphene-based electronics require similar, compatible 2-D materials fo
|Contact: David Ruth|