For all of graphene’s amazing electronic capabilities, it has not made much of an impact as a replacement for silicon in digital logic applications. This shortcoming is largely due to its lack of an inherent band gap that’s needed in computing applications to start and stop the flow of electrons.
While methods for engineering a band gap into graphene have been around for years, these approaches have been recognized as imperfect solutions. They have added critical costs and complications to using the material and compromised the attractive electronic properties that made graphene a desirable replacement for silicon in the first place.
Now researchers in Spain have devised an inexpensive way to grow graphene with the same band gap that exists in silicon (1 eV), and in so doing, may have reopened graphene’s potential as an alternative to silicon for digital logic.
In research described in the journal Science, a team from throughout Spain and led by the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) has employed bottom-up manufacturing techniques to assemble nanopororus graphene in such a way that the pores have the size, density, and morphology to create a perfect band gap for digital electronics. The researchers then made a field-effect transistor (FET) device using this material.