A new technique, developed by a team at Rice University, will allow lithographers to strip back individual, atom-thick, layers of graphene, one at a time, shaping the material into the electronic components it promises to revolutionise.
Dr. James Tour and his fellow researchers at Rice University needed to find a way to overcome graphene’s tendency to stick to itself. Although it is famously possible to peel layers of graphene from graphite with a piece of sticky tape, this is not the most precise approach, and often brings multiple layers with breakage and gaps and so on.
Instead of sticky tape, Dr. Tour and his team coated the graphene in a layer of zinc, and then washing the area with hydrochloric acid. This strips away the coated portions leaving the layers below and uncoated areas of the surface untouched. The researchers say it is the highest precision lithography ever developed, and works on graphene oxide, too.
Dr. Tour told PhysicsWorld: "Being able to remove one layer at a time from graphene is the highest precision lithography that has ever been attained, or could ever be attained, for this – or indeed any other material – since it is made of single atoms layers."
The work is written up in the journal Science here.