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ICs grown on graphene, patented

Posted: 11 Sep 2012  Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:graphene  GaAs nanowires  electrode 

Developing high-performance semiconductors built on graphene is now possible thanks to a team of researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) who have patented the technology and have taken the steps to commercialize their breakthrough. The discovery, NTNU said, could help break new ground for more flexible, self-powered electronic devices.

NTNU's patented hybrid material offers excellent optoelectronic properties, according to Helge Weman, a professor at NTNU's department of electronics and telecommunications. "We have managed to combine low cost, transparency and flexibility in our new electrode," said Weman, who is also a co-founder and chief technology officer of the company created to market the research, CrayoNano (Trondheim, Norway).

The patented method of growing gallium arsenide (GaAs) nanowires on atomically thin graphene uses molecular beam epitaxy to grow the nanowires, according to NTNU. The research was published in U.S.-based journal Nano Letters.

"We do not see this as a new product," Weman said through a statement. "This is a template for a new production method for semiconductor devices. We expect solar cells and light emitting diodes to be first in line when future applications are planned."

Researchers believe that semiconductors grown on graphene will eventually form the basis for new types of devices and could fundamentally change the semiconductor industry.

Weman said the NTNU technology "fits perfectly" with the production machinery already in place at companies like IBM and Samsung, which are working on methods for using graphene as a replacement for silicon in electronics and for new applications like flexible touchscreens for mobile phones. "We make it easy for them to upgrade consumer electronics to a level where design has no limits," Weman said.

The researchers envision the possibility of nanowire solar cells, which potentially could be efficient, cheap and flexible. The researchers also envision the technology being used to create self-powered nanomachines and advanced 3-D ICs built on graphene and semiconductor nanowires, enabling smaller and more efficient electronics.

"Semiconductors grown on graphene could become the basis for new types of device systems, and could transform the semiconductor industry by introducing graphene as a preferred substrate for many applications," Weman said.

NTNU said the research underpinning this latest breakthrough has been supported since 2007 by the Research Council of Norway. The technology has been patented and spun off as CrayoNano, the university said.

- Dylan McGrath
  EE Times





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