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Study quantifies the electron transport effects of placing metal contacts onto graphene
Date:2/24/2010

to 14 nanometers apart, with graphene suspended between them. In their calculations, the researchers allowed the aluminum to grow as it would in the real world, then studied how electron transfer was induced in the area surrounding the contacts.

"People have been able to come up with phenomenological models that they use to find out what the effects are with metallic contacts," Chou explained. "Our calculations went a few steps farther because we built contacts atom-by-atom. We built atomistically-resolved contacts, and by doing that, we solved this problem at the atomic level and tried to do everything consistent with quantum mechanics."

Because metals typically have excess electrons, physically attaching the contacts to graphene causes a charge transfer from the metal. Charge begins to be transferred as soon as the contacts are constructed, but ultimately the two materials reach equilibrium, Chou said.

The study showed that charge transfer at the leads and into the freestanding section of the material creates an electron-hole asymmetry in the conductance. For leads that are sufficiently long, the effect creates two conductance minima at the energies of the Dirac points for the suspended and clamped regions of the graphene, according to Barraza-Lopez.

"These results could be important to the design of future graphene devices," he said. "Edge effects and the impact of nanoribbon width have been studied in significant detail, but the effects of charge transfer at the contacts may potentially be just as important."

The researchers modeled aluminum, but believe their results will apply to other metals such as copper and gold that do not form chemical bonds with graphene. However, other metals such as chromium and titanium do chemically alter the material, so the effects they have on electron transport may be different.

Beyond the new information provided by the calculations, the research further proposes q
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Contact: John Toon
jtoon@gatech.edu
404-894-6986
Georgia Institute of Technology Research News
Source:Eurekalert  

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