Defects in Graphene Leads to Smaller, Faster Electronics

graphene defects image

Image via PhysOrg, Credit: Y. Lin, USF

When it comes to electronics, we think that efficiency comes with perfect uniformity. But it turns out, defects are often more desirable. Remember how, thanks to studying spider hairs, that variations in a surface is the key to repelling water? Well little variations in a surface is also key to making graphene an effective alternative to silicon. A team of researchers at the University of South Florida lead by USF Professors Matthias Batzill and Ivan Oleynik have developed a new method for adding a "defect" to graphene, making it more useful in electronic applications like integrated circuits.PhysOrg reports on the findings, as published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology. The researchers found that well-defined, extended defect several atoms across, containing octagonal and pentagonal carbon rings embedded in a perfect graphene sheet can conduct electric current and therefore connect elements of device structures of all-carbon, atomic-scale electronics.

According to the article, previous attempts at making the little defects have produced samples that are, well, defective. The samples are either inconsistent or only the edges of thin strips of graphene have the useful defect structure.

But, by tweaking how the defects are produced, the team was able to create a more consistent surface with the necessary defects. That could mean big changes for how computer chips are created, and it could mean Moore's law won't be slowed down by limitations of silicon.

In other words, ever smaller, faster electronics are still in our future. That's great news for everything from laptops to electric cars.

The discovery won't be applicable right away, but it takes us a step further in switching from silicon to graphene, something that battery companies are keenly interested in.

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