30 July 2012
Researchers ‘cut the graphene cake’
Researchers have demonstrated that wonder material graphene can be used as a building block to create 3d crystal structures which are not confined by what nature can produce.
The team at the University of Manchester says that sandwiching individual graphene sheets between insulating layers could open up an entirely new dimension of research.
The scientists showed that a new side view imaging technique can be used to visualise the individual atomic layers of graphene within the devices they built. They found that the structures were almost perfect even when more than 10 different layers were used to build the stack.
This result indicates that the latest techniques of isolating graphene could be a big step forward for engineering at the atomic level as well as giving more weight to graphene's suitability for next gen computer chips.
The side view imaging approach works by extracting a thin slice from the centre of the device. The researchers used a beam of ions to cut into the surface of the graphene and dig a trench on either side of the section they wanted to isolate.
"The difference is that our slices are only around 100 atoms thick and this allows us to visualise the individual atomic layers of graphene in projection," commented Dr Sarah Haigh at the University of Manchester's school of materials. "We have found that the observed roughness of the graphene is correlated with their conductivity."
The researchers also observed that the layers were perfectly clean and that any debris left over from production segregated into isolated pockets and did not affect device performance.
The University of Manchester is currently building a National Graphene Institute in a bid to lead the way in graphene research.
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