Graphene oxide films have been used to make a transistor composed of just one molecular monolayer functioned on a chip. The first applications for the graphene-based chip will be in testing future molecular electronics, the chip itself represents a first step towards integrated molecular circuits.
“The difference between this work and “graphene transistors” in general is that we use a molecular monolayer as the active (switchable) layer between a graphene electrode and a gold electrode, i.e. we are working in the field of molecular electronics in combination with graphene electronics,” Nørgaard explained to me in an e-mail. “The advantage of this molecular approach is that molecules can be tailor-made to provide a variety of interesting functions with tunable properties—in this case the ability to switch conductance as a function of light irradiation.”
The sandwich-like structure’s ability to operate by light impulses that turn the molecular transistor on and off is enabled by graphene’s translucent qualities.
This new chip should bring an entirely new level of precision to IC formation by enabling the precise placement of the molecules rather than essentially just pouring them out of a beaker. With this chip, molecular wires, diodes, and contacts can now be tested quickly to determine their characteristics.
“We’ve made a design that’ll hold many different types of molecule,” Nørgaard says in the release. “Because the graphene scaffold is closer to real chip design, it does make it easier to test components. But of course it’s also a step on the road to making a real integrated circuit using molecular components. And we must not lose sight of the fact that molecular components do have to end up in an integrated circuit if they are going to be of any use at all in real life.”
ABSTRACT – A new type of solid-state molecular junction is introduced, which employs reduced graphene oxide as a transparent top contact that permits a self-assembled molecular monolayer to be photoswitched in situ, while simultaneously enabling charge-transport measurements across the molecules. The electrical switching behavior of a less-studied molecular switch, dihydroazulene/vinylheptafulvene, is described, which is used as a test case.