Graphene, a form of carbon composed of a single layer of atoms arranged in a two-dimensional honeycomb lattice, has garnered significant interest in nanoelectronics due to its unique properties, including high electrical conductivity, flexibility, and strength. However, a major limitation of graphene for semiconductor applications has been its lack of an intrinsic bandgap, essential for controlling the flow of electricity.
Bandgap in Semiconductors:
A bandgap is a key property of semiconductors, determining their ability to conduct electricity. In graphene, the absence of a natural bandgap limits its use in applications where on-off switching of current is crucial.
Over the years, scientists have attempted to introduce a bandgap in graphene through methods like quantum confinement or chemical functionalization. However, these methods failed to produce viable semiconducting graphene suitable for electronic devices.
Recent Breakthrough - Semiconducting Epigraphene (SEG):
Scientists have developed SEG on silicon carbide substrates, creating a semiconducting form of graphene with a bandgap of 0.6 eV. This advancement is crucial as it significantly enhances graphene’s potential in electronic applications.
Properties of SEG:
SEG demonstrates exceptional electrical mobility, outperforming traditional silicon and other two-dimensional semiconductors. This high mobility indicates faster electron transport, making SEG highly efficient for electronic applications.
Production of SEG:
The production involves a quasi-equilibrium annealing method, resulting in well-ordered SEG on large, flat terraces. The process aligns the SEG lattice with the SiC substrate, ensuring robustness and compatibility with conventional semiconductor fabrication techniques.
Impact and Applications:
The development of SEG opens new avenues in nanoelectronics, potentially leading to more efficient, smaller, and faster electronic devices. Its compatibility with existing semiconductor technology paves the way for innovative applications in various fields, including computing, sensing, and communications.
In summary, the creation of semiconducting graphene represents a significant leap in nanoelectronics, offering new possibilities for advanced electronic devices and technologies.