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From 2D to 1D: Atomically quasi '1D' wires using a carbon nanotube template

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Wednesday, April 24, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Researchers from Tokyo Metropolitan University have used carbon nanotube templates to produce nanowires of transition metal monochalcogenide (TMM), which are only 3 atoms wide in diameter. These are 50 times longer than previous attempts and can be studied in isolation, preserving the properties of atomically quasi "1D" objects. The team saw that single wires twist when perturbed, suggesting that isolated nanowires have unique mechanical properties which might be applied to switching in nanoelectronics.

Two-dimensional materials have gone from theoretical curiosity to real-life application in the span of less than two decades; the most well-known example of these, graphene, consists of well-ordered sheets of carbon atoms. Though we are far from leveraging the full potential of graphene, its remarkable electrical and thermal conductivity, optical properties and mechanical resilience have already led to a wide range of industrial applications. Examples include energy storage solutions, biosensing, and even substrates for artificial tissue.

Yet, despite the successful transition from 3D to 2D, the barrier separating 2D and 1D has been significantly more challenging to overcome. A class of materials known as transition metal monochalcogenides (TMMs, transition metal + group 16 element) have received particular interest as a potential nanowire in precision nanoelectronics. Theoretical studies have existed for over 30 years, and preliminary experimental studies have also succeeded in making small quantities of nanowire, but these were usually bundled, too short, mixed with bulk material or simply low yield, particularly when precision techniques were involved e.g. lithography. The bundling was particularly problematic; forces known as van der Waals forces would force the wires to aggregate, effectively masking all the unique properties of 1D wires that one might want to access and apply.

Now, a team led by Assistant Professor Yusuke Nakanishi from Tokyo Metropolitan University has succeeded in producing bulk quantities of well-isolated single nanowires of TMM. They used tiny, open-ended rolls of single-layered carbon, or carbon nanotubes (CNTs), to template the assembly and reaction of molybdenum and tellurium into wires from a vapor. They succeeded in producing single isolated wires of TMM, which were only 3-atoms thick and fifty times longer than those made using existing methods. These nanometer-sized CNT "test tubes" were also shown to be not chemically bound to the wires, effectively preserving the properties expected from isolated TMM wires. Importantly, they effectively "protected" the wires from each other, allowing for unprecedented access to how these 1D objects behave in isolation.

While imaging these objects using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), the team found that these wires exhibited a unique twisting effect when exposed to an electron beam. Such behavior has never been seen before and is expected to be unique to isolated wires. The transition from a straight to twisted structure may offer a novel switching mechanism when the material is incorporated into microscopic circuits. The team hope the ability to make well-isolated 1D nanowires might significantly expand our understanding of the properties and mechanisms behind the function of 1D materials.

Tags:  2D materials  Carbon Nanotubes  Graphene  nanoelectronics  Tokyo Metropolitan University  Yusuke Nakanishi 

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New method of synthesising nanographene on metal oxide surfaces

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Tuesday, March 5, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Nanostructures based on carbon are promising materials for nanoelectronics.

However, to be suitable, they would often need to be formed on non-metallic surfaces, which has been a challenge – up to now. Researchers at FAU have found a method of forming nanographenes on metal oxide surfaces. Their research, conducted within the framework of collaborative research centre 953 – Synthetic Carbon Allotropes funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), has now been published in the journal Science.



Two-dimensional, flexible, tear-resistant, lightweight, and versatile are all properties that apply to graphene, which is often described as a miracle material. In addition, this carbon-based nanostructure has unique electrical properties that make it attractive for nanoelectronic applications. Depending on its size and shape, nanographene can be conductive or semi-conductive – properties that are essential for use in nanotransistors. Thanks to its good electrical and thermal conductivity, it could also replace copper (which is conductive) and silicon (which is semi-conductive) in future nanoprocessors.

Nanographene on metal oxides

The problem: In order to create an electronic circuit, the molecules of nanographene must be synthesised and assembled directly on an insulating or semi-conductive surface. Although metal oxides are the best materials for this purpose, in contrast to metal surfaces, direct synthesis of nanographenes on metal oxide surfaces is not possible as they are considerably less chemically reactive. The researchers would have to carry out the process at high temperatures, which would lead to several uncontrollable secondary reactions.

A team of scientists led by Dr. Konstantin Amsharov from the Chair of Organic Chemistry II have now developed a method of synthesising nanographenes on non-metallic surfaces, that is insulating surfaces or semi-conductors.

It’s all about the bond

The researchers’ method involves using a carbon fluorine bond, which is the strongest carbon bond. It is used to trigger a multilevel process. The desired nanographenes form like dominoes via cyclodehydrofluorination on the titanium oxide surface. All ‘missing’ carbon-carbon bonds are thus formed after each other in a formation that resembles a zip being closed.

This enables the researchers to create nanographenes on titanium oxide, a semi-conductor. This method also allows them to define the shape of the nanographene by modifying the arrangement of the preliminary molecules. New carbon-carbon bonds and, ultimately, nanographenes form where the researchers place the fluourine atoms.

For the first time, these research results demonstrate how carbon-based nanostructures can be manufactured by direct synthesis on the surfaces of technically-relevant semi-conducting or insulating surfaces. ‘This groundbreaking innovation offers effective and simple access to electronic nanocircuits that really work, which could scale down existing microelectronics to the nanometre scale,’ explains Dr. Amsharov.

Tags:  Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg  Graphene  Konstantin Amsharov  nanoelectronics  nanographene  Semiconductor 

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Large, stable pieces of graphene produced with unique edge pattern

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Graphene is a promising material for use in nanoelectronics. Its electronic properties depend greatly, however, on how the edges of the carbon layer are formed. Zigzag patterns are particularly interesting in this respect, but until now it has been virtually impossible to create edges with a pattern like this. Chemists and physicists at FAU have now succeeded in producing stable nanographene with a zigzag edge.

Not only that, the method they used was even comparatively simple. Their research, conducted within the framework of collaborative research centre 953  – Synthetic Carbon Allotropes funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), has now been published in the journal Nature Communications*.

Bay, fjord, cove, armchair and zigzag – when chemists use terms such as these, it is clear that they are referring to nanographene. More specifically, the shape taken by the edges of nanographene, i.e. small fragments of graphene. Graphene consists of a single-layered carbon structure, where each carbon atom is surrounded by three others. This creates a pattern reminiscent of a honeycomb, with atoms in each of the corners. Nanographene is a promising candidate for use in the field of microelectronics, taking over from silicon which is used today and bringing microelectronics down to the nano scale.

The electronic properties of the material depend greatly on its shape, size and above all, periphery, in other words how the edges are structured. A zigzag periphery is particularly suitable, as in this case the electrons, which act as charge carriers, are more mobile than in other edge structures. This means that using pieces of zigzag-shaped graphene in nanoelectronic components may allow higher frequencies for switches.

The problem currently faced by materials scientists who want to research only zigzag nanographene is that this form makes the compounds rather unstable, and unable to be produced in a controlled manner. This is a prerequisite, however, if the electronic properties are to be investigated in detail.

The team of researchers led by PD Dr. Konstantin Amsharov from the Chair of Organic Chemistry II have now succeeded in doing just that. Not only have they discovered a straightforward method for synthesising zigzag nanographene, their procedure delivers a yield of close to one hundred percent and is suitable for large scale production. They have already produced a technically relevant quantity in the laboratory.

First of all, the FAU researchers produce preliminary molecules, which they then fitt together in a honeycomb formation over several cycles, in a process known as cyclisation. In the end, graphene fragments are produced from staggered rows of honeycombs or four-limbed stars surrounding a central point of four graphene honeycombs, with the sought-after zigzag pattern to their edges. Why is this method able to produce stable zigzag nanographene? The explanation lies in the fact that the product crystallises directly even during synthesis. In their solid state, the molecules are not in contact with oxygen. In solution, however, oxidation causes the structures to disintegrate quickly.

This approach allows scientists to produce large pieces of graphene, whilst maintaining control over their shape and periphery. This breakthrough in graphene research means that scientists should soon be able to produce and research a variety of interesting nanographene structures, a crucial step towards finally being able to use the material in nanoelectronic components.

Tags:  Friedrich–Alexander University  Graphene  Konstantin Amsharov  nanoelectronics  nanographene 

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