Semiconductor Nanowires Grown on GrapheneCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: September 11, 2012 11:53AM
For many of examples of nanotechnology, the best and occasionally only method to make them is to grow them on some substrate. Exactly what the substrate is can be quite important as it affects the growth of the material on top of it and how easily the material is harvested. Often these substrates are made of something like copper, silicon, or another semiconductor, but researchers at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology have recently used graphene as a substrate with promising results and have formed Crayonano, a spin-off company, to commercialize it.
Graphene is an atom-thick sheet of carbon arrayed in a hexagonal pattern and has many extraordinary properties, including high conductivity, strength, flexibility, and is transparent. This has caused researchers across the world to find ways to use it to revolutionize electronics, but I am unsure if anyone has tried using it like this. With graphene as the substrate, the researchers grew gallium arsenide nanowires roughly one micrometer tall. The result is a hybrid material, as gallium arsenide is a semiconductor while graphene is a conductor.
The researchers see great promise for this method of making such a hybrid material as it combines the best of both worlds. Graphene's flexibility is desired by many for creating flexible displays or solar cells, but a semiconductor is required for those jobs, which is where the gallium arsenide comes in. Perhaps most importantly though, because of how thin graphene is, this hybrid material is relatively cheap to produce, compared to thicker, more traditional substrates.