9 September 2009
Nano material could boost new microchips
A new graphite-based, magnetic nano-material that acts as a semiconductor could help create the next generation of electronic devices like microchips.
Using theoretical computer modeling, an international research team designed the new material called graphone, derived from an existing material known as graphene.
A ferromagnetic graphone sheet
Graphene, created by scientists five years ago, is 200 times stronger than steel, its electrons are highly mobile, and it has unique optical and transport properties. Some experts said graphene may be more versatile than carbon nanotubes, and the ability to make graphene magnetic adds to its potential for novel applications in spintronics. Spintronics is a process using electron spin to synthesize new devices for memory and data processing.
Although you can significantly modify graphene’s properties by introducing defects and by saturating with hydrogen, it has been very difficult for scientists to manipulate the structure to make it magnetic.
“The new material we are predicting—graphone—makes graphene magnetic simply by controlling the amount of hydrogen coverage—basically, how much hydrogen is put on grapheme,” said Puru Jena, Ph.D., distinguished professor in the Virginia Commonwealth University Department of Physics. “It avoids previous difficulties associated with the synthesis of magnetic grapheme.”
In addition to VCU, the team of researchers is from Peking University in Beijing, China; the Chinese Academy of Science in Shanghai, China; and Tohoku University in Sedai, Japan
“There are many possibilities for engineering new functional materials simply by changing their composition and structure. Our findings may guide researchers in the future to discover this material in the laboratory and to explore its potential technological applications,” Jena said.
“One of the important impacts of this research is that semi-hydrogenation provides us a very unique way to tailor magnetism. The resulting ferromagnetic graphone sheet will have unprecedented possibilities for the applications of graphene-based materials,” said Qiang Sun, Ph.D., research associate professor with the VCU team.
For related information, go to www.isa.org/manufacturing_automation.