Georgia Institute of Technology researchers have pioneered the fabrication techniques expected to be used for manufacturing high-performance electronic devices from the material that has been recognized in this year's Nobel Prize in physics.
The 2010 physics prize was awarded for producing, isolating, identifying and characterising graphene, a single atomic layer of carbon whose unique properties make the material attractive for electronic applications. Scientists at the University of Manchester were recognized for their work on graphene sheets peeled from blocks of graphite.
The work of the Georgia Tech group, headed by Professor Walt de Heer in the Georgia Tech School of Physics, was recognized by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in its scientific background document on the physics prize. De Heer's group pioneered epitaxial techniques for growing large-scale graphene sheets by heating wafers of silicon carbide to drive off the silicon, leaving a thin layer of graphene.
The technique, which is now being used by research groups at companies such as IBM, has practical applications in large-scale production of electronic devices. On Oct. 3, the group published a paper in the journal Nature Nanotechnology describing a new technique used to produce an array of 10,000 graphene transistors.
"We believe that our technique, or one very much like it, will ultimately be used to manufacture future generations of graphene-based electronic devices," said de Heer. "Using techniques that are suitable for scaling up for mass production, we can grow graphene in the patterns that we need for electronic devices."
The Georgia Tech group holds a patent, filed in 2003, on fabricating electronic devices from these graphene layers.