The answer may lie in new nanoscale systems based on ultrathin layers of materials with exotic properties. Called two-dimensional layered materials, these systems could be important for microelectronics, various types of hypersensitive sensors, catalysis, tissue engineering and energy storage. Researchers at Penn State have applied one such 2D layered material, a combination of graphene and hexagonal boron nitride, to produce improved transistor performance at an industrially relevant scale.
“Other groups have shown that graphene on boron nitride can improve performance two to three times, but not in a way that could be scaled up. For the first time, we have been able to take this material and apply it to make transistors at wafer scale,” said Joshua Robinson, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Penn State and the corresponding author on a paper reporting their work in the online version of the journal ACS Nano.
In the article, the Penn State team describes a method for integrating a thin layer of graphene only one or two atoms thick, with a second layer of hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) with a thickness of a few atoms up to several hundred atoms. The resulting bilayer material constitutes the next step in creating functional graphene field effect transistors for high frequency electronic and optoelectronic devices.