Jerzy Bernholc

North Carolina State University at Raleigh

Biophysics

Researchers Advance Graphene’s Potential as Silicon Alternative

In the face of a slowing Moore’s law for silicon-based CMOS technology, researchers are on the hunt for a successor to silicon. One of the more promising candidates is graphene, a one-atom thick layer of carbon prized for its strength, flexibilty, lightness and conductivity.Despite graphene’s potential, it is not without challenges. Its biggest shortcoming: it lacks the energy band gap necessary to produce switching devices, like transistors.The big question is how to best imbue graphene with this critical semiconductor functionality. Researchers with the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and North Carolina State University have developed a new nanoribbon growing technique that does just this..

Built from the bottom up, nanoribbons pave the way to ‘on–off’ states for graphene

A new way to grow narrow ribbons of graphene, a lightweight and strong structure of single-atom-thick carbon atoms linked into hexagons, may address a shortcoming that has prevented the material from achieving its full potential in electronic applications. Graphene nanoribbons, mere billionths of a meter wide, exhibit different electronic properties than two-dimensional sheets of the material.“Confinement changes graphene’s behavior,” said An-Ping Li, a physicist at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Graphene in sheets is an excellent electrical conductor, but narrowing graphene can turn the material into a semiconductor if the ribbons are made with a specific edge shape..