Cutting the graphene cake

Cutting the graphene cake

( -- Researchers at the University of Manchester have demonstrated that graphene can be used as a building block to create new 3D crystal structures which are not confined by what nature can produce.

Sandwiching individual graphene sheets between insulating layers in order to produce electrical devices with unique new properties, the method could open up a new dimension of physics research.

Writing in , the scientists show that a new side-view imaging technique can be used to visualize the individual of within the devices they have built. They found that the structures were almost perfect even when more than 10 different layers were used to build the stack.

This surprising result indicates that the latest techniques of isolating graphene could be a huge leap forward for engineering at the .

This development gives more weight to graphene's suitability as a major component in the next generation of .

The researchers' side-view imaging approach works by first extracting a thin slice from the centre of the device. This is similar to cutting through a rock to reveal the geological layers or slicing into a chocolate gateaux to reveal the individual layers of icing.

The scientists used a beam of ions to cut into the surface of the graphene and dig a trench on either side of the section they wanted to isolate. They then removed a thin slice of the device. Wonder material graphene is a two dimensional material consisting of a single layer of arranged in a honeycomb or chicken wire structure. It is the thinnest material in the world and yet is also one of the strongest. It conducts electricity as efficiently as copper and outperforms all other materials as a conductor of heat.

Demonstrating its remarkable properties won Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov the Nobel prize for Physics in 2010. The University of Manchester is building a state-of-the-art National Graphene Institute to continue to lead the way in graphene research.

Dr Sarah Haigh, from The University of Manchester's School of Materials, said: "The difference is that our slices are only around 100 atoms thick and this allows us to visualize the individual atomic layers of graphene in projection.

"We have found that the observed roughness of the graphene is correlated with their conductivity. Of course we have to make all our electrical measurements before cutting into the device. We were also able to observe that the layers were perfectly clean and that any debris left over from production segregated into isolated pockets and so did not affect device performance.

"We plan to use this new side view imaging approach to improve the performance of our graphene devices."

A video showing a similar technique to the one employed by the graphene researcher.

Explore further

Graphene's 'Big Mac' creates next generation of chips

More information: Cross-sectional imaging of individual layers and buried interfaces of graphene-based heterostructures and superlattices, by S. J. Haigh et al. Nature Materials, 2012.
Journal information: Nature Materials

Citation: Cutting the graphene cake (2012, July 29) retrieved 17 July 2019 from
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Jul 29, 2012
Indeed: COSTS. Does anyone have a rough estimate as to what the expenses are for design, fabrication, and mass production of graphene gates and glue logic semiconductors is - just a guess?

Lets keep it in the less than 100,000 gate area to begin with.

Read this article, all seems too good to be left to itself or to intel or AMD, etc, etc, etc...
These firms are going to ride silicon until the fat lady sings.

Any ideas fellow Earthlings?


Jul 29, 2012
Ok, COSTS; Current$/structure >= Whew!,
Now 10yr <= $o.0000..1 ( -x)
Significance beyond the current moment = Wow!

This is clearly a demonstration of precise atomic scale fabrication of components with an arbitrary range of properties, including physical geometry from a minimal set of feedstock elements. Now consider the implications of constructing a single micro-scale constructor apparatus that replicates the functions shown here. Given that device could make copies of itself along with whatever other components within its capabilities we would have John von Neumann's Universal Constructor;

"...... a self-replicating machine in a cellular automata (CA) environment. It was designed in the 1940s, without the use of a computer. The fundamental details of the machine were published in von Neumann's book Theory of Self-Reproducing Automata, completed in 1966 by Arthur W. Burks after von Neumann's death."

What is presented here is not a UC but it certainly points in that direction.

Jul 29, 2012
silicon is set to take us to about 2016-19 beyond that it cannot get any smaller, or faster for that matter.

Silicon will end in our lifetime. and that is sometime around 2020. Graphene is set to take its place, not because of size, because it's not gonna make tranistors a whole lot smaller than they will be in 7 years. Graphene can switch on and off fast. really really fast. Most people have not noticed that computers are only getting faster because they are adding more cores. That can only take you so far.

IF every process running on your computer had its own core running at 4.0 Ghz then how much faster can you get with silicon?

Graphene can turn on and off potentially 1000-3000x faster. Thz devices are already being produced with graphene.

Let me tell you about the future: circa 2030
10.0 Thz processors
100 cores on the cheap chips
optical busses
and a new type of ram that can keep up.

Now you tell me what it can do

Jul 30, 2012
What that will do is enable inexpensive ubiquitous modular micro-scale robotics, gray goo if we let that happen, Von Neumann Universal Constructors if we're smart, access to the resource base of the entire solar system built and ready for occupation by said Constructors, each rice grain sized sub-unit driven by it's own 10 THz atomic scale processor. Fiction is becoming fact as we stand by and watch.

Aug 01, 2012
Indeed: COSTS. Does anyone have a rough estimate as to what the expenses are for design, fabrication, and mass production of graphene gates and glue logic semiconductors is - just a guess? ...

Costs a whole bunch, I'm betting. But "tooling costs" can be amortized over thousands of devices, maybe millions ... And the fat lady will continue to sing until Moore's Law begins to break down.

Aug 01, 2012
If it could be done in large areas somehow it would might some interesting super capacitor possibilities too.

The Chinese are making these "super" capacitors from Graphene already ... although not by use of the above technics. (If memory serves: newsletter of several months back has a nice article on how they are doing it.)

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