Nitrogen could offer a graphene alternative

Material produced by research in South Korea could be an alternative to graphene.
South Korean researchers believe they have developed a rival to graphene. The two-dimensional, nitrogen-containing crystal could rival graphene and silicon as a viable semiconductor material.

Graphene has the potential of synthesising other two-dimensional crystals by introducing elements other than carbon into graphene's carbon lattice structure, and thus develop materials that can be used as active switching devices in electronics.

The atomic size and structure of nitrogen enable it to fit naturally into a strong network of carbon atoms by creating bonds in which electrons are shared by the whole network.

Researchers at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) and Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea synthesised nitrogenated 2D crystals using a simple chemical reaction in liquid phase without using a template, as conventionally required.

They verified the structure by atomic-resolution scanning tunnelling microscopy imaging and confirmed its semiconducting nature by testing it with a FET (field effect transistor). The geometric and electronic structure of the nitrogenated crystals make it potentially suitable for use in electronics, sensors and catalysis.

The research findings are published in the March edition of Nature Communications.

Caroline Hayes

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