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Water could hold answer to graphene nanoelectronics
Date:10/26/2010

olecules," published this week by the journal Small. See the full paper at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/smll.201001384

In its natural state, graphene has a peculiar structure but no band gap. It behaves as a metal and is known as a good conductor. This is compared to rubber or most plastics, which are insulators and do not conduct electricity. Insulators have a large band gap an energy gap between the valence and conduction bands which prevents electrons from conducting freely in the material.

Between the two are semiconductors, which can function as both a conductor and an insulator. Semiconductors have a narrow band gap, and application of an electric field can provoke electrons to jump across the gap. The ability to quickly switch between the two states "on" and "off" is why semiconductors are so valuable in microelectronics.

"At the heart of any semiconductor device is a material with a band gap," Koratkar said. "If you look at the chips and microprocessors in today's cell phones, mobile devices, and computers, each contains a multitude of transistors made from semiconductors with band gaps. Graphene is a zero band gap material, which limits its utility. So it is critical to develop methods to induce a band gap in graphene to make it a relevant semiconducting material."

The symmetry of graphene's lattice structure has been identified as a reason for the material's lack of band gap. Koratkar explored the idea of breaking this symmetry by binding molecules to only one side of the graphene. To do this, he fabricated graphene on a surface of silicon and silicon dioxide, and then exposed the graphene to an environmental chamber with controlled humidity. In the chamber, water molecules adsorbed to the exposed side of the graphene, but not on the side facing the silicon dioxide. With the symmetry broken, the band gap of graphene did, indeed, open up, Koratkar said. A
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Contact: Michael Mullaney
mullam@rpi.edu
518-276-6161
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

Page: 1 2 3

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