Norwegian researchers are the world’s first to develop a method for producing semiconductors from graphene. This finding may revolutionise the technology industry.
The method involves growing semiconductor-nanowires on graphene. To achieve this, researchers “bomb” the graphene surface with gallium atoms and arsenic molecules, thereby creating a network of minute nanowires.
The result is a one-micrometre thick hybrid material which acts as a semiconductor. By comparison, the silicon semiconductors in use today are several hundred times thicker. The semiconductors’ ability to conduct electricity may be affected by temperature, light or the addition of other atoms.
Graphene is the thinnest material known, and at the same time one of the strongest. It consists of a single layer of carbon atoms and is both pliable and transparent. The material conducts electricity and heat very effectively. And perhaps most importantly, it is very inexpensive to produce.
Broad-based public funding
The researchers have received assistance in gaining patents and founding a company from NTNU Technology Transfer AS, a collaborative partner to the programme entitled Commercialising R&D Results (FORNY2020) at the Research Council of Norway.
However, the path to these remarkable findings started with basic research funded under the Research Council’s Clean Energy for the Future Programme (RENERGI) and the now-concluded programme, Nanotechnology and New Materials (NANOMAT), which initiated the findings.
The researchers are hoping to have the new semiconductor hybrid materials on the commercial market in roughly five years.