Graphene, a one-atom-thick carbon sheet, is creating much excitement in the scientific community because of its exceptional properties and countless potential applications. Although graphene is the thinnest material in the world, it is one hundred and fifty times stronger than an equivalent weight of steel and can carry an electrical current density one thousand times higher than copper.
In 1997, Georgia Tech researchers discovered that electrons could flow across the graphene lattice unimpeded by other layers, moving with extraordinary speed and freedom in a process known as ballistic conduction. But they realized that the potential for electronic conduction could not be realized using the graphene used at the time (carbon nanotubes) and they started to investigate flat graphene in 2001. Their 2003 patent paved the way toward graphene-based nanoelectronics, which has to do with epitaxial graphene, or graphene grown on silicon carbide.
The Developing Novel Coherent, High Speed and Electron Spin Graphene Electronic Devices PUF project between the Georgia Institute of Technology and Université Lorraine continues in the promising vein of graphene research. For the past two years, a team of French and American partners has been measuring the properties and structural characteristics of epitaxial graphene and epitaxial nanoribbons while simultaneously working to advance the field of graphene-based electronics.
This extensive international collaboration has led to 58 publications authored by the partners, including several that appeared in high impact journals such as Nature and Nature Physics.
Since the start of the project, researchers have discovered that epitaxial graphene ribbons that are a few nanometers thick have exceptional ballistic electronic transport properties at room temperature, in contrast to any other known material (with the exception of carbon nanotubes). They have also made gains by intensely investigating the structural, electronic, and magnetic properties of these ribbons.
The PUF partnership, which brings together 4 research groups in France and 3 in the US, including the prestigious CNRS, has been highly successful. It has garnered acknowledgement in more than 14 publications and at 30 international conferences. The collaboration was also featured in the inaugural speech of CNRS president Alain Fuchs, graced the cover of the National CNRS 2013 annual report, and was mentioned in the CNRS national news.
Thanks to a grant from PUF, partners initiated 41 international trips for a total of 27 months that involved 10 students and post-docs and eight faculty members. The team plans to expand by incorporating additional satellite research labs and creating more opportunities for transatlantic travel for core research team members.