The world’s thinnest, strongest and most conductive material, discovered in 2004 at the University of Manchester by Professor Andre Geim and Professor Kostya Novoselov, has the potential to revolutionize materials science.

Demonstrating the remarkable properties of graphene won the two scientists the Nobel Prize for Physics last year and Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne has just announced plans for a £50m graphene research hub to be set up.

Now, writing in the journal Nature Physics, the University of Manchester team have for the first time demonstrated how graphene inside electronic circuits will probably look like in the future. By sandwiching two sheets of graphene with another two-dimensional material, boron nitride, the team created the graphene ‘Big Mac’ – a four-layered structure which could be the key to replacing the silicon chip in computers. Because there are two layers of graphene completed surrounded by the boron nitride, this has allowed the researchers for the first time to observe how graphene behaves when unaffected by the environment.

Dr Leonid Ponomarenko, the leading author on the paper, said: “Creating the multilayer structure has allowed us to isolate graphene from negative influence of the environment and control graphene’s electronic properties in a way it was impossible before. “So far people have never seen graphene as an insulator unless it has been purposefully damaged, but here high-quality graphene becomes an insulator for the first time.”

Professor Geim said, “Leaving the new physics we report aside, technologically important is our demonstration that graphene encapsulated within boron nitride offers the best and most advanced platform for future graphene electronics. It solves several nasty issues about graphene’s stability and quality that were hanging for long time as dark clouds over the future road for graphene electronics.” “It could be only a matter of several months before we have encapsulated graphene transistors with characteristics better than previously demonstrated.”
This story is reprinted from material from the University of Manchester, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.