Atom-by-atom assembly makes for cheap, tuneable graphene nanoribbons

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Graphene nanoribbons could serve a variety of purposes, and a new way to produce then could help unleash this potential

The wonder material graphene can take many forms for many different purposes, from transparent films that repel mosquitoes to crumpled balls that could boost the safety of batteries. One that has scientists particularly excited is nanoribbons for applications in energy storage and computing, but producing these ultra-thin strips of graphene has proven a difficult undertaking. Scientists are claiming a breakthrough in this area, devising a method that has enabled them to efficiently produce graphene nanoribbons directly on the surface of semiconductors for the first time.

The wonder material graphene can take many forms for many different purposes, from transparent films that repel mosquitoes to crumpled balls that could boost the safety of batteries. One that has scientists particularly excited is nanoribbons for applications in energy storage and computing, but producing these ultra-thin strips of graphene has proven a difficult undertaking. Scientists are claiming a breakthrough in this area, devising a method that has enabled them to efficiently produce graphene nanoribbons directly on the surface of semiconductors for the first time.

As opposed to the sheets of carbon atoms arranged in honeycomb patterns that make up traditional graphene, graphene nanoribbons consist of thin strips just a handful of atoms wide. This material has great potential as a cheaper and smaller alternative to silicon transistors that would also run faster and use less power, or as electrodes for batteries that can charge in as little as five minutes.

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