Electronics could get atom-thick sheets

Jan. 28, 2013 at 8:31 PM

HOUSTON, Jan. 28 (UPI) -- U.S. researchers say they've joined a conductor and insulator into a single atoms-thick layer that may advance the ability to shrink electronic devices.

Scientists at Rice University in Houston say the material -- graphene as a conductor and hexagonal boron nitride as an insulator -- have been merged into sheets and built into a variety of patterns at nanoscale dimensions.

Researchers say the technique suggests the possibility of building 2-D, atomic-layer circuits that could offer manufacturers the possibility of condensing electronic devices into even smaller packages.

While the Rice researchers have created sheets with features to a resolution of about 100 nanometers, they say the only real limits are those defined by modern lithographic printing techniques. (A nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.)

"It should be possible to make fully functional devices with circuits 30, even 20 nanometers wide, all in two dimensions," Rice researcher Jun Lou said in a university release Sunday.

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