RIVERSIDE, Calif. Graphene is nature's thinnest elastic material and displays exceptional mechanical and electronic properties. Its one-atom thickness, planar geometry, high current-carrying capacity and thermal conductivity make it ideally suited for further miniaturizing electronics through ultra-small devices and components for semiconductor circuits and computers.
But one of graphene's intrinsic features is ripples, similar to those seen on plastic wrap tightly pulled over a clamped edge. Induced by pre-existing strains in graphene, these ripples can strongly affect graphene's electronic properties, and not always favorably.
If the ripples can be controlled, however, they can be used to advantage in nanoscale devices and electronics, opening up a new arena in graphene engineering: strain-based devices.
UC Riverside's Chun Ning (Jeanie) Lau and colleagues now report the first direct observation and controlled creation of one- and two-dimensional ripples in graphene sheets. Using simple thermal manipulation, the researchers produced the ripples, and controlled their orientation, wavelength and amplitude.
"When the graphene sheets are stretched across a pair of parallel trenches, they spontaneously form nearly periodic ripples," Lau explained. "When these sheets are heated up, they actually contract, so the ripples disappear. When they are cooled down to room temperature, the ripples re-appear, with ridges at right angle to the edges of the trenches. This phenomenon is similar to what happens to a piece of thin plastic wrap that covers a container and heated in a microwave oven."
The unusual thermal contraction of graphene had been predicted theoretically, but Lau's lab is the first to demonstrate and quantify the phenomenon experimentally.
Study results appear July 26 in the advance online publication of Nature Nanotechn
|Contact: Iqbal Pittalwala|
University of California - Riverside