Alejandro Freixes
Mar 16, 2012

Straintronics: Engineers create piezoelectric graphene

Piezoelectrics have found application in countless devices from watches, radios and ultrasound to the push-button starters on propane grills, but these uses all require relatively large, three-dimensional quantities of piezoelectric materials. Now, in a paper published in the journal ACS Nano, two materials engineers at Stanford have described how they have engineered piezoelectrics into graphene, extending for the first time such fine physical control to the nanoscale. This phenomenon brings new dimension to the concept of  ‘straintronics,’ he said, because of the way the electrical field strains -- or deforms -- the lattice of carbon, causing it to change shape in predictable ways. While the results in creating piezoelectric graphene are encouraging, the researchers believe that their technique might further be used to engineer piezoelectricity in nanotubes and other nanomaterials with applications ranging from electronics, photonics and energy harvesting to chemical sensing and high-frequency acoustics.