Dec 19th, 2013
NUS researchers develop novel method to grow high-quality graphene for high-end electronic devices
A team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS), led by Professor Loh Kian Ping, who heads the Department of Chemistry at the NUS Faculty of Science, has successfully developed an innovative one-step method to grow and transfer high-quality graphene on silicon and other stiff substrates, opening up opportunities for graphene to be used in high-value applications that are currently not technologically feasible.
This method represents a big step towards industrial applications of graphene
This breakthrough, inspired by how beetles and tree frogs keep their feet attached to submerged leaves, is the first published technique that accomplishes both the growth and transfer steps of graphene on a silicon wafer. This technique enables the technological application of graphene in photonics and electronics, for devices such as optoelectronic modulators, transistors, on-chip biosensors and tunneling barriers.
The innovation was first published online in prestigious scientific journal Nature on 11 December 2013.
To address the current technological gap, the NUS team led by Prof Loh drew their cues from how beetles and tree frogs keep their feet attached to fully submerged leaves, and developed a new process called "face-to-face transfer".
Dr Gao Libo, the first author of the paper and a researcher with the Graphene Research Centre at NUS Faculty of Science, grew graphene on a copper catalyst layer coating a silicon substrate. After growth, the copper is etched away while the graphene is held in place by bubbles that form capillary bridges, similar to those seen around the feet of beetles and tree frogs attached to submerged leaves. The capillary bridges help to keep the graphene on the silicon surface and prevent its delamination during the etching of the copper catalyst. The graphene then attaches to the silicon layer.
To facilitate the formation of capillary bridges, a pre-treatment step involving the injection of gases into the wafer was applied by Dr Gao. This helps to modify the properties of the interface and facilitates the formation of capillary bridges during the infiltration of a catalyst-removal liquid. The co-addition of surfactant helps to iron out any folds and creases that may be created during the transfer process.
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