Edges are critical determinants of a nanoribbon's properties because the electrons along the edge of one ribbon edge can interact with the electrons along the edge of another ribbon, resulting in the type of energy gap that is crucial for making devices. For example, zigzagged edges in graphene nanoribbons have been shown to be capable of carrying a magnetic current, which makes them candidates for spintronics, the computing technology based on the spin rather than the charge of electrons.
Kris Erickson, who was the lead author on the Nano Letters paper, says that, "Given the significant dependence upon boron nitride nanoribbon edges for imbuing particular electronic and magnetic properties, the high likelihood of synthesizing ribbons with zigzag and armchair edges makes our technique particularly suitable for addressing theoretical predictions and realizing proposed applications."
Erickson also says it should be possible to functionalize the edges of the boron nitride nanoribbons, as these edges are terminated with chemically reactive potassium atoms following synthesis and with reactive hydrogen atoms following exposure to water or ethanol.
"The potassium-terminated edge could easily be replaced with a species other than hydrogen," Erickson says. "Different chemicals could be used for quenching to impart other terminations, and, furthermore, hydrogen could be replaced after quenching by either utilizing established boron nitride functionalization routes, or by devising new routes unique to the highly reactive nanoribbon edge."
Zettl and his research group are now investigating alternative syntheses using different boron nitride nanotube precursors to increase yields and improve the purification process. They are also attempting to functionalize the
|Contact: Lynn Yarris|
DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory