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Graphene continues to reign as the next potential superstar material for the electronics industry, a slimmer, stronger and much faster electron conductor than silicon. With no natural energy band-gap, however, graphene's superfast conductance can't be switched off, a serious drawback for transistors and other electronic devices. Various techniques have been deployed to overcome this problem with one of the most promising being the integration of ultrathin layers of graphene and boron nitride into two-dimensional heterostructures. As conductors, these bilayered hybrids are almost as fast as pure graphene, plus they are well-suited for making devices. However, tailoring the electronic properties of graphene boron nitride (GBN) heterostructures has been a tricky affair, involving chemical doping or electrostatic-gating -- until now. Researchers with Berkeley Lab and the University of California (UC) Berkeley have demonstrated a technique whereby the electronic properties of GBN heterostructures can be modified with visible light. Feng Wang, a condensed matter physicist with Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division and UC Berkeley's Physics Department, as well as an investigator for the Kavli Energy NanoSciences Institute at Berkeley, led a study in which photo-induced doping of GBN heterostructures was used to create p-n junctions and other useful doping profiles while preserving the material's remarkably high electron mobility.

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