Graphene nanoribbons get real

Picture courtesy of Wikimedia CommonsScientists get very excited about graphene because of its electronic properties, but so far there is little sign of anything real appearing based on the stuff.

Graphene is a sheet of carbon atoms only one atom in thickness and which is a better conductor than silicon.

But now scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UWM) say they’ve hit on a way to grow ultra narrow strips – nanoribbons – on conventional semiconductor wafers.

This, they said will let vendors build graphene nanoribbons into hybrid integrated circuits speeding up electronic devices.

Associate professor Michael Arnold believes the techinque developed by the UWM team can be scaled for mass production.

“Graphene nanoribbons that can be grown directly on the surface of a semiconductor like germanium are more compatible with planar processing that’s used in the semiconductor industry, and so there would be less of a barrier to integrating these really excellent materials into electronics in the future,” he said.

The UWM researchers grow ultra narrow nanoribbons with smooth straight edges on the wafers using chemical vapour deposition. The nanoribbons have to be less than 10 nanometres. That’s thin.