Graphene, crystalline carbon in the form of a single sheet of atoms, is widely tipped to impact electronics because it offers higher electron mobility than materials used in silicon-based transistors. However, up until now graphene and its derivatives have only existed as conductors and insulators.
The team at UWM has produced a derivative with oxygen atoms included within the hexagonal carbon-ring structure that characterizes graphene which they are calling graphene monoxide (GMO). The existence of the semiconducting derivative could help advance an era of carbon-based nanoscale electronics, the university said.
The team discovered GMO while researching the behavior of a hybrid nanomaterial comprising carbon nanotubes with attached tin-oxide nanoparticles that was being investigated for use as a sensor.
Professors Junhong Chen, Marija Gajdardziska, Carol Hirschmugl collaborated on microscopy techniques to investigate carbon surfaces and to try and synthesize graphene from graphene oxide (GO) a multilayer insulator.
However, in one experiment where they were heating GO in a vacuum to drive off the oxygen the researchers found that layers of GO became aligned and formed GMO. The proportion of oxygen included can be varied and at different high temperatures, the team has produced four materials that they collectively refer to as GMO.
The team is continuing to research the material to find its robustness and how easy it might be to scale up its manufacture.