LiU best at making graphene
Graphene – remember that word. The supermaterial that just gave its originators the Nobel Prize in physics is being manufactured at Linköping University via a unique method.
“Those of us researching graphene are very happy, especially since this is an entirely new field that’s getting attention. Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov certainly deserve a Nobel Prize,” says Chariya Virojanadara, research assistant in material physics.
When the prize was announced, an entire group of material researchers from LiU was participating in a start-up meeting for an EU project that will study various electronic applications for graphene.
“Our task in the project is to deliver the material. We’re the best in the world at manufacturing graphene through what’s known as epitaxial growth,” Virodanajara says.
It’s only been six years since Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, at Britain’s University of Manchester, succeeded in peeling off a one-atom-thick layer from a piece of graphite, the same substance found in pencils.
Graphene proved to be chemically stable, elastic, and very strong. But it is, above all, its electronic properties that make the material a hot property in research circles. The secret is a cloud of free electrons that float over the layer of tightly-bound carbon atoms. The electrons move at close to the speed of light – 100 times faster than in silicon – which makes it highly conductive. The first graphene transistor was developed two years ago and is the world’s smallest.
The manufacturing method now being used at LiU was developed by a team headed by Professor Rositza Yakimova. A slice of silicon carbide is heated up, and the graphene grows on a face of the crystal (epitaxial growth).
Further development of the material will make it possible to control its electronic properties.
“We’ll accomplish this through adding hydrogen atoms and creating two-layer graphene,” Virojanadara says.
Last updated: 2010-10-13