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Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have created a new type of tunnel device structure in which the tunnel barrier and transport channel are made of the same material, graphene. They show that dilutely fluorinated graphene, a single atomic layer of carbon atoms arranged in a 2-D honeycomb array, acts as a tunnel barrier on another layer of graphene for charge and spin transport. They demonstrate tunnel injection through the fluorinated graphene, and lateral transport and electrical detection of pure spin current in the graphene channel. They further report the highest spin injection values yet measured for graphene, providing evidence for the enhancement of tunnel spin polarization theoretically predicted to occur for certain ferromagnetic metals on graphene. This discovery opens an entirely new avenue for making highly functional, scalable graphene-based electronic and spintronic devices a reality. The research results are reported in a paper published in the journal Nature Communications on January 21, 2014.

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