Here’s the First Functional Graphene Semiconductor

Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology created the world’s first functional semiconductor made from graphene, opening the door to a new way of doing electronics. Silicon is reaching its limit due to increasingly faster computing and smaller electronic devices. Researchers based in Atlanta, Georgia, and Tianjin, China, produced a graphene semiconductor compatible with conventional microelectronics processing methods. Their research is published in Nature

The team overcame the “band-gap” hurdle, a critical electronic property that allows semiconductors to switch on and off. Graphene hasn’t had a band gap until now. The team created a robust graphene semiconductor with 10x the mobility of silicon and unique properties not available in silicon.

Graphene has unique properties. It is a highly robust material that can handle huge currents without heating up and falling apart. The team learned how to grow graphene on silicon carbide wafers using special furnaces. When made correctly, epitaxial graphene chemically bonded to silicon carbide and showed semiconducting properties.

The team needed to measure its electronic properties without damaging it. They put atoms on the graphene that “donate” electrons to the system, called doping, which is used to see whether the material is a good conductor. It worked without damaging the material or its properties. The team’s product is currently the only two-dimensional semiconductor with the necessary properties to be used in nanoelectronics. 

Epitaxial graphene could allow for new technologies that exploit its unique properties. The material enables the quantum mechanical wave properties of electrons to be utilized, which is required for quantum computing.

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.