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New Means Found of Doping Graphene with Great Precision


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Carbon is an amazing element as its various forms can have wildly different and useful properties, with graphene exhibiting great strength and conductivity. This would make it ideal for use in electronics, except that it lacks a natural band gap and thus requires special doping to act as a semiconductor. Now researchers at Berkeley Lab have found a new dopant that is very effective at turning graphene into a p-type semiconductor.

Graphene is a sheet of carbon just one atom thick, making it effectively two dimensional, and it is able to carry electrons at speeds near that of light. Without a means of switching off that conductivity though, its usefulness is limited. By doping it with other atoms and molecules though, its properties can be altered and the Berkeley researchers found that F4TCNQ does a very good of this, when the graphene is on a boron nitride substrate. This pairing causes the F4TCNQ molecules to self-assemble islands on the graphene that pull in electrons. This causes the graphene to take on a positive charge, making it a p-type semiconductor, and also reduces its energy, which leads to island cohesion.

On its own this discovery could help graphene enter electronics, but the mechanics behind the island forming should occur with other materials as well. This could open the door to actually tuning the properties of graphene for use in devices.

Source: Berkeley Lab

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