By now we all know that graphene has lots of potential applications, from virtually no-light camera sensors, to terabit upload speeds, to all your wildest dreams. Now, researchers have figured out how to chemically spot-weld graphene, wiring tiny graphene structures to real electronics with one-atom wires.
A lot of graphene’s superpowers are derived from the fact that graphene nanostructures can be tiny, less than 10 nanometers wide. Of course, wiring those up is going to be difficult but researchers from Aalto University and Utrecht University have figured it out. Using atomic force microscopy and a scanning tunneling microscope to map out the lay of the graphene land, and then shooting concentrated voltage pulses from the same microscope to boot a single hydrogen atom off the cap of a graphene micro-ribbon, they were able to create a single, atom-wide chemical bond that functions as a tiny wire.
“We cannot use alligator clips on the atomic scale,” said head of the Atomic Scale Physics group at Aalto University, Professor Peter Liljeroth. “Using well-defined chemical bonds is the way forward for graphene nanostructures to realise their potential in future electronics.”
For now, this tech’s not good for much besides experimentally testing some of graphene’s more theoretical properties; we still have a lot to figure out about the practical specifics of using graphene nanostructures in everyday gadgets. But someday (hopefully sooner than later) these kinds of wires could be hooking chunks of graphene magic in the electronics you actually own. The future can’t come soon enough. [Phys.Org]