NiHITP possesses bandgap that sidelines graphene
Graphene has been explored to replace silicon, spurring intense research efforts especially in countries including the U.S., Japan, Europe, and even China where it has earned the government's support.
However, because of graphene's lack of a natural backgap, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University, claim everybody may be barking up the wrong tree. Instead, they should be looking for compounds with the same good properties as graphene, but which also possess a natural bandgap. One such family of materials is exemplified by nickel hexa-imino-triphenylene (NiHITP).
MIT professor of chemistry Mircea Dinca told EE Times in an interview:
Just like graphite can be exfoliated into graphene (which is nothing other than single sheets of graphite), our material can also be exfoliated into single sheets. As opposed to the graphene layers, our layers should be tunable by controlled chemical modification, which will alter their electronic properties in a systematic manner.
Figure 1: The molecular structure of the graphene-analogue material naturally forms a hexagonal lattice structure so that the openings in the hexagons are all perfectly aligned. Source: MIT
Officially, the new material is called Ni3(HITP)2, since it bonds three atoms of nickel with two organic molecules of HITP, but NiHITP is just the first of a family of materials with natural bandgaps that can have their electronic functions tuned on the atomic scale for specific applications.
Dinca told EE Times:
We have not yet measured its bandgap, but it is larger than 0. Graphene's bandgap is 0, which makes it not suitable, as is, as a semiconductor. One of the things that we are working on right now is to make large single sheets of the material to firstly measure its bandgap and better characterise its electronic properties, and secondly to make devices with it. So those are our immediate challenges.
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