Researchers create very small sensor using 'white graphene'

Baku, June 29, AZERTAC

Researchers from TU Delft in The Netherlands, in collaboration with a team at the University of Cambridge (U.K.), have found a way to create and clean tiny mechanical sensors in a scalable manner. They created these sensors by suspending a two-dimensional sheet of hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN), or ‘white graphene’ over small holes in a silicon substrate. This innovation could lead to extremely small gas and pressure sensors for future electronics.

According to Phys.org, hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) is an interesting material with a honeycomb lattice structure similar to that of graphite. But while graphite conducts electricity, while h-BN acts as an insulator. This property makes h-BN popular as a high-end lubricant, especially in industrial applications where electrical conductivity is undesirable. Since h-BN has the added benefit of being chemically and thermally more stable than graphite, it is also used in harsh environments such as space, for example, in deep ultraviolet applications.

Using a technique called chemical vapour deposition, researchers at the University of Cambridge grew a one-atom-thick sheet of h-BN, or ‘white graphene,” onto a piece of iron foil. They then mailed it to TU Delft in The Netherlands. There, through a series of steps, the Delft researchers transferred the sheet of transparent white graphene onto a silicon substrate containing tiny circular cavities. By doing so, they created microscopic ‘drums”. These drums function as mechanical resonators and could be used as infinitesimal gas or pressure sensors, for instance in mobile phones.

“Fortunately, this problem can be solved by only using organic substrates while transferring the sheet of white graphite onto the cavities,” says Cartamil-Bueno. Thus, the Delft researchers have provided proof of principle for the fabrication of incredibly small sensors for future electronics.

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