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Templated growth technique produces graphene nanoribbons with metallic properties
Date:3/21/2011

growth of graphene structures, allowing the formation of nanoribbons and other structures of specific widths and shapes without the use of cutting techniques that produce the rough edges.

In creating these graphene nanostructures, de Heer and his research team first use conventional microelectronics techniques to etch tiny "steps" or contours into a silicon carbide wafer whose surface has been made extremely flat. They then heat the contoured wafer to approximately 1,500 degrees Celsius, which initiates melting that polishes any rough edges left by the etching process.

Established techniques are then used for growing graphene from silicon carbide by driving off the silicon atoms from the surface. Instead of producing a consistent layer of graphene across the entire surface of the wafer, however, the researchers limit the heating time so that graphene grows only on portions of the contours.

The width of the resulting nanoribbons is proportional to the depth of the contours, providing a mechanism for precisely controlling the nanoribbon structures. To form complex structures, multiple etching steps can be carried out to create complex templates.

"This technique allows us to avoid the complicated e-beam lithography steps that people have been using to create structures in epitaxial graphene," de Heer noted. "We are seeing very good properties that show these structures can be used for real electronic applications."

Since publication of the Nature Nanotechnology paper, de Heer's team has been refining its technique. "We have taken this to an extreme the cleanest and narrowest ribbons we can make," he said. "We expect to be able to do everything we need with the size ribbons that we are able to make right now, though we probably could reduce the width to 10 nanometers or less."

While the Georgia Tech team is continuing to develop high-frequency transistors perhaps even at the terahertz range it
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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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