14 Aug 2014

Foldable tablets, wrap-around TVs, and the next generation of electronics

Research gives further insight into graphene-based devices

SASKATOON – Imagine a tablet device as thin as a piece of paper, folded conveniently in your pocket. Or a 3D TV that wraps around the walls of an entire room in your home. 

“Graphene” by AlexanderAlUS

Graphene is a single-layer sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb lattice that is incredibly strong (about 100 times stronger than steel), low weight, and conducts heat and electricity with great efficiency. Graphene was first made in 2004 by Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov at the University of Manchester – a discovery that earned the two physicists a Nobel Prize in 2010. 

Using a number of experimental facilities at the Canadian Light Source, a group of scientists successfully measured the smallest optical density of single layer graphene so far, giving further insight into the design and fabrication of graphene-based nanodevices, which can potentially enable the future electronic gadgets.

“Nanomaterials, in general, are extremely interesting,” said Dr. Swathi Iyer, a postdoctoral fellow at the CLS. “Graphene has drawn great attention and there is global interest in exploring its use in various applications, including optoelectronic and nanophotonics. The idea of flexible electronic devices has always fascinated me. Graphene would be ideal for such futuristic devices.”

According to Iyer, it was critical to understand the intrinsic property of the graphene, especially where the material folds or cracks.

Iyer and her colleagues wanted to understand the changes at the extremely tiny micro and nanoscale, so they used state-of-the-art techniques to study the structural and electronic properties of freestanding graphene.

The group fabricated a large-area, freestanding, single-layer graphene-gold hybrid structure using the micro fabrication facility at the CLS. Gold-decorated, single-layer graphene was created and extensively tested, which provided important insights into the electronic activity of this novel hybrid nanostructure.

Using the synchrotron, they identified two distinct activities in the graphene-gold nanostructure: experimental evidence for the localized graphene–gold interaction at the nanoscale, and the smallest optical density for the single layer graphene measured thus far were experimentally confirmed for the first time.

“We believe that our findings on these hybrid nanostructures can pave the way for future fabrication of graphene-based devices with unique configurations, and enhanced properties for a wide range of applications,” said Iyer.

CLS scientists (l-r) Dr. Jian Wang, Garth Wells, Dr. Ferenc Borondics, postdoctoral fellow Dr. Swathi Iyer and University of Saskatchewan physicist Dr. Michael Bradley conduct research on a number of CLS beamlines including Mid-IR, SyLMAND and SM. Other research team members (not shown) are Dr. Scott Payne, Electron Microscopy Center and Dr. Srinivasan Guruvenket, Centre for Nanoscale Science and Engineering. 

This photo and others to accompany the story are available with a Creative Commons license in the CLS Flickr Gallery
Cite: Iyer, Ganjigunte R. Swathi, et al. "Large Area Freestanding Single Layer Graphene-Gold: A Hybrid Plasmonic Nanostructure." ACS nano (2014), 8 (6), pp 6353–6362 DOI: 10.1021/nn501864h

About the CLS:

The Canadian Light Source is Canada’s national centre for synchrotron research and a global centre of excellence in synchrotron science and its applications. Located on the University of Saskatchewan campus in Saskatoon, the CLS has hosted over 2,000 researchers from academic institutions, government, and industry from 10 provinces and 2 territories; delivered over 32,000 experimental shifts; received over 8,300 user visits; and provided a scientific service critical in over 1,000 scientific publications, since beginning operations in 2005.

CLS operations are funded by Canada Foundation for InnovationNatural Sciences and Engineering Research CouncilWestern Economic Diversification CanadaNational Research Council of CanadaCanadian Institutes of Health Research, the Government of Saskatchewan and theUniversity of Saskatchewan.

Synchrotrons work by accelerating electrons in a tube to nearly the speed of light using powerful magnets and radio frequency waves. By manipulating the electrons, scientists can select different forms of very bright light using a spectrum of X-ray, infrared, and ultraviolet light to conduct experiments.

Synchrotrons are used to probe the structure of matter and analyze a host of physical, chemical, geological and biological processes. Information obtained by scientists can be used to help design new drugs, examine the structure of surfaces in order to develop more effective motor oils, build more powerful computer chips, develop new materials for safer medical implants, and help clean up mining wastes, to name a few applications.

For more information visit the CLS website 
For photos to accompany this story and more images from the CLS visit our Flickr gallery

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