Daniel Porter
Aug 14, 2012

Graphene properties depend on substrate

Graphene is pretty much as thin as it gets, being single-layered sheets of carbon molecules and all. As a result, graphene always needs to be supported by some other material. Silicon, for example. MIT researchers recently revealed that the material underneath graphene can have a significant impact on its properties. In one experiment, graphene on silicon readily reacts with certain chemicals but graphene on boron nitride is very non-reactive. "Graphene is very strange," Michael Strano, an author on the MIT paper, sums up his research. The team has also com up with a new theory of electron transfer that accounts for these seemingly unpredictable changes. Strano sees this as a watershed moment in the development of on-substrate graphene, unlocking a handful of interesting properties for uses ranging from microarray sensors and protective coatings. "It can completely turn off the corrosion," he says as an example, "almost like magic … with just the whisper of a coating."

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