Scientists from CEITEC BUT introduced a way to control graphene properties

25. Nov. 2018

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In their recent publication the researchers from the group Molecular Nanostructures at Surfaces  introduced a way to remotely control the properties of graphene by a low energy electron beam. The researchers of a recently established group at CEITEC BUT studied the influence of electron beam or X-rays on the properties of graphene. Their findings published in journal Nanoscale can be applied for example in adaptive electronics. 

According to its leader Jan Čechal, the recently established research group Molecular Nanostructures at Surfaces focuses on fabrication of structures with atomic or molecular precision. “In the classic approach the structures are fabricated by a lithographic structuring of the bulk material to create the intended design. That way, we are able to achieve precision below 10 nanometers. However, further substantial refinement is not possible due to physical limits given by the properties of mater. At this point alternative approaches become much more effective,” said Čechal.

The development of these alternative methods is the main topic of the group’s research. “We take  atoms or molecules and assemble them into structures with required properties. Imagine Lego – the single bricks are put together into complex structures. However, on atomic level it would be disadvantageous to build something by putting together bricks one after another. This is why the self-assembly approaches are utilized. Using these principles the molecules guide themselves into forming the intended structure,” described Jan Čechal. 

Although the primary focus of the team is the fabrication of nanostructures, they aim on selected properties and applications. “We would like to study catalytic properties or spin interactions. Our goal is to gain control over spin-spin interactions,” added Čechal. 

One of the substrates chosen for building new structures is graphene. “Graphene is an externally controllable material. By changing the applied voltage we can steer its properties; and not only the properties of the substrate but also the properties of the structures built on graphene. This opens new possibilities,” explained Čechal. 

The findings of the study on external control of graphene properties are summarized in the recent issue of Nanoscale. “In the future they can be used for example in adaptive electronics: the electronic circuits could be built or reconfigured according to momentary situation,” said Jan Čechal. “But there is still a long way from the discovery to an application.”