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Highest intrinsic electron mobility advances nanotechnology prospects for graphene

Graphene is one of a number of nanostructures being investigated to replace conventional silicon microtechnology in electronic devices with nanotechnology. Advancing the case for graphene in nanotech is the recent demonstration that the intrinsic mobility of electrons in graphene is much greater than in silicon or in any other conventional semiconductor. However, achieving this intrinsic speed remains a challenge due to the need for a substrate to support the one-atom-thick graphene layer. From the University of Maryland, via AAAS EurekAlert, “UM physicists show electrons can travel over 100 times faster in graphene than in silicon

University of Maryland physicists have shown that in graphene the intrinsic limit to the mobility, a measure of how well a material conducts electricity, is higher than any other known material at room temperature. Graphene, a single-atom-thick sheet of graphite, is a new material which combines aspects of semiconductors and metals.

Their results, published online in the journal Nature Nanotechnology [abstract], indicate that graphene holds great promise for replacing conventional semiconductor materials such as silicon in applications ranging from high-speed computer chips to biochemical sensors.

A team of researchers led by physics professor Michael S. Fuhrer of the university’s Center for Nanophysics and Advanced Materials, and the Maryland NanoCenter said the findings are the first measurement of the effect of thermal vibrations on the conduction of electrons in graphene, and show that thermal vibrations have an extraordinarily small effect on the electrons in graphene.

—Jim

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