August 12, 2015


(a,b) SEM image (a) and AFM topographic map (b) of a graphene monolayer on Ge(001).
Scale bars, 200 nm (a,b); height scale bar, 11.8 nm (b). Inset of b is height (h) plotted against
projected surface distance (d) showing the profile of the facets across the dotted line in b. (c)
LEED pattern taken at 19 eV showing the {01} spots from the unreconstructed Ge(001)
surface (magenta) and the {00} spots from the Ge facets (cyan). (image: Nature Communications)

(August 12, 2015)  Graphene, an atom-thick material with extraordinary properties, is a promising candidate for the next generation of dramatically faster, more energy-efficient electronics. However, scientists have struggled to fabricate the material into ultra-narrow strips, called nanoribbons, that could enable the use of graphene in high-performance semiconductor electronics.

Now, University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers have discovered a way to grow graphene nanoribbons with desirable semiconducting properties directly on a conventional germanium semiconductor wafer. This advance could allow manufacturers to easily use graphene nanoribbons in hybrid integrated circuits, which promise to significantly boost the performance of next-generation electronic devices. The technology could also have specific uses in industrial and military applications, such as sensors that detect specific chemical and biological species and photonic devices that manipulate light.

In a paper published Aug. 10 in the journal Nature Communications, Michael Arnold, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at UW-Madison, Ph.D. student Robert Jacobberger, and their collaborators describe their new approach to producing graphene nanoribbons. Importantly, their technique can easily be scaled for mass production and is compatible with the prevailing infrastructure used in semiconductor processing.

"Graphene nanoribbons that can be grown directly on the surface of a semiconductor like germanium are more compatible with planar processing that's used in the semiconductor industry, and so there would be less of a barrier to integrating these really excellent materials into electronics in the future," Arnold says.

journal reference (Open Access) >>