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What can happen when graphene meets a semiconductor
Date:11/22/2013

For all the promise of graphene as a material for next-generation electronics and quantum computing, scientists still don't know enough about this high-performance conductor to effectively control an electric current.

Graphene, a one-atom-thick layer of carbon, conducts electricity so efficiently that the electrons are difficult to control. And control will be necessary before this wonder material can be used to make nanoscale transistors or other devices.

A new study by a research group at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) will help. The group has identified new characteristics of electron transport in a two-dimensional sheet of graphene layered on top of a semiconductor.

The researchers demonstrated that when electrons are rerouted at the interface of the graphene and its semiconducting substrate, they encounter what's known as a Schottky barrier. If it's deep enough, electrons don't pass, unless rectified by applying an electric field a promising mechanism for turning a graphene-based device on and off.

The group also found, however, another feature of graphene that affects the height of the barrier. Intrinsic ripples form on graphene when it is placed on top of a semiconductor.

The research group, led by Lian Li and Michael Weinert, UWM professors of physics, and Li's graduate student Shivani Rajput, conducted their experiment with the semiconductor silicon carbide. The results were published in the Nov. 21 issue of Nature Communications.

The ripples are analogous to the waviness of a sheet of paper that has been wetted and then dried. Except in this case, notes Weinert, the thickness of the sheet is less than one nanometer (a billionth of a meter).

"Our study says that ripples affect the barrier height and even if there's a small variation in it, the results will be a large change in the electron transport," says Li.

The barrier needs to be the same height across the who
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Contact: Lian Li
lianli@uwm.edu
414-229-5108
University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Source:Eurekalert  

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