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In movies and television series, audio tapes or other devices self-destruct after delivering the details of impossible missions. Scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have taken it to a new level with an electron-beam writing technique that induces the deposition of carbon on a graphene surface. The deposits control the material’s nanoscale electronic properties and create junctions between electron-rich (where the carbon was deposited) and electron-deficient regions. These junctions could enable nanoscale electronics. Over time, the deposited carbon diffuses on the surface, which could dynamically change how the device functions.

This electron-beam technique allows for nanoscale engineering of future graphene-based devices for information and energy storage, sensors, as well as nanoelectronics that could be re-configurable with dynamic function.

Scientist have developed a novel “direct-write” additive lithographic technique that can be used to electronically pattern graphene materials at the nanoscale. The technique is called focused electron beam induced deposition (FEBID) and can be used to engineer nanoscale electronic properties of graphene. This technique can form conduction channels in graphene for a variety of applications, such as transistors and energy storage devices. The “direct write” technique controllably induces deposition of carbon, which locally changes the electronic properties of graphene.

Changing the energy, exposure, and location of the e-beam controls the carbon deposition. Additionally, the carbon diffuses on the surface over time, dynamically changing the local electronic properties.

These experimental findings not only highlight a unique capability for locally controlling graphene’s electronic properties, but also suggest a possibility of using FEBID for local “functional patterning” of other two-dimensional nanomaterials. Scientists have shown how to prepare nanoscale junctions of materials with different electronic properties using an e-beam technique, providing new possibilities of developing graphene-based devices that can adapt their electronic functionality.

This work was supported by the DOE Office of Science (Office of Basic Energy Sciences) for FEBID experiments, test structures fabrication and electrical measurements, and data analysis and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) for graphene samples and Raman/atomic force microscopy characterization.

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