Growing Graphene

Ultra-thin graphene sheets have the potential to be widely used in high-performance nanoelectronic applications in transistors and low-power chips when they are attached to aluminium oxide surfaces. Thus far, however, materials scientists have found it difficult to produce graphene sheets on these surfaces effectively and at an affordable price.

Existing methods have proved to be expensive and inefficient – they require a lot of energy and the sheets produced are fragile and liable to be impure. Now a team of researchers, including TYC Member Dario Alfe has now published an article in the leading scientific journal Nature Communications that describes a new and improved process.

They were able to create a very high quality sheet of graphene on an ultra thin (around 1.5 nm thick) base of aluminium oxide. Ingeniously, they did so by starting with a graphene layer on a surface of Ni3Al which they then oxidised – in effect reversing the order in which thing were previously done. Apart from the excellent results produced by their experiment, these researchers have identified a method that can be applied at much greater scales, potentially at industrial levels. Moreover, since they used readily available raw materials at the comparatively low temperature of 500K, the method used is affordable.

Original Paper

Bottom-up approach for the low-cost synthesis of graphene-alumina nanosheet interfaces using bimetallic alloys. Nat. Commun. 5:5062 (2014)

Figure: Schematic outline. (a) The clean Ni3Al(111) surface, (b) Gr growth on Ni3Al(111) by means of high temperature ethylene CVD, and (c) oxidation of the Al atoms. Reprinted with permission from DOI: 10.1038/ncomms6062. Copyright 2014 Nature Publishing Group.


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