New chemical process to make the most suitable for graphene electronics
A team of researchers has developed a new method to chemically alter to graphene. This invention is a major step towards the creation of faster electronics, thinner and more flexible.
Highly desired for its many promising attributes, graphene is a lattice of carbon atoms, one atom thick, which resembles the structure of cells of a honeycomb. Graphene has an exceptional strength and conductivity.
Among the many possible applications of graphene, highlights the electronics industry: Many experts believe that this unique material could compete with silicon, transforming and promoting integrated circuits manufacturing of computers, mobile phones and other portable electronic devices with better benefits, including increased processing speed.
However, before all this becomes a reality, researchers must learn to adjust appropriately the electronic properties of graphene, a challenge not easy considering the great obstacles related to the nature of the material that must be overcome. Unlike semiconductors such as silicon, graphene is not a pure material which can easily stop the flow of electric current. Therefore, pure graphene is not suitable for digital circuits which are made almost all conventional chips.
To overcome this problem and make it more functional graphene, researchers from many parts of the world are investigating methods to chemically alter the material. The predominant strategy is the method of Hummers, a process developed in the 1940s which also serves to oxidize the graphene. However, this method depends on very aggressive acids which can irreversibly damage the very structure of the lattice of graphene.
The team of Mark C. Hersam, professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern University, USA, has recently developed a new method to oxidize the graphene without collateral damage exercised by the Hummers method. The new oxidation process is also reversible, allowing a greater capacity to refine the resulting properties of chemically modified graphene.
The material resulting from subjecting the pure graphene new process has a high degree of chemical homogeneity. Spectroscopic measurements show that the electronic properties of graphene vary depending on the coverage of oxygen.
Everything suggests, in short, that this new method may be ideal to adjust with sufficient precision the properties of many devices made of graphene.