Graphene research paves way for molecular electronics

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Researchers have developed a new nanotechnology platform for the development of molecule based electronic components using graphene.

The team from the Nano Science Center at the University of Copenhagen believe they have solved a problem that has challenged researchers for a decade. The researchers are among the first in the world to be able to chemically produce large flakes of graphene using chemical and physical processes. One of the team, nano chemist, Kasper Nørgaard, claims that they are able to produce such large flakes of graphene that they can use them as components in an entirely new technology platform within molecule based electronics. More than 10 years ago, it was proclaimed that nanotechnology could revolutionise computer technology, it was partly because many assumed that the development of molecular electronics would be just around the corner. Molecular electronics involves replacing traditional electrical components with molecules, creating tiny electronic circuits for use in, for example, computers and data storage. This has proven to be more challenging than anticipated, in part because the components short circuited when the molecules were contacted with electrodes and were therefore unable to create a workable circuit. Graphene, believes Nørgaard, is the solution to the 10 year old problem. "We can now place one of our graphene flakes on top of the molecules, protecting the system from short circuits," said Nørgaard. "That is how we developed a new technology platform for use in the development of new electronics based on molecules." The researchers are trying to use molecules with different properties in the platform, for example, molecules that can alternate between being conductive and non-conductive. This paves the way for the electronics of the future in areas such as memory technology, ultra thin displays and solar cells.