Graphene: famous for being a Nobel Prize prompting wonder material, and for having no band gap. The lack of band gap means graphene’s future as a possible replacement for silicon has always looked bleak, because a band gap is the property that allows a transistor to be switched on and off. No on and off, no logic switches; silicon stays in the game.
But this lack might now be under threat, according to researchers in Argentina who claim to have developed a method for introducing a band gap by manipulating graphene with lasers.
From PhysOrg: "In a new study, Foa Torres and his coauthors have addressed [the band gap] problem. By analyzing the way that a laser field interacts with electrons in graphene, the researchers have predicted that shining a mid-infrared laser on graphene can produce band gaps in its electronic structure."
The researchers also speculate that the band gaps might be tuneable, depending on the polarisation of the laser.
So far, this is all talk no action, but Torres says that they next step is to experimentally verify the predictions.
Torres told PhysOrg: "With the aim of paving the way for experimentalists to be able to verify them, we have performed a very fine tuning of parameters such as laser frequency, amplitude, etc. During the last months we received very valuable feedback from top-level experimental groups in the US and Spain that are interested in our proposal."
So, stay tuned for more. The research “Tuning laser-induced band gaps in graphene.” Is published in Applied Physics Letters 98, 232103 (2011).