Precise spatial control over the electrical properties of thin films is the key capability enabling the production of modern integrated circuitry. Although recent advances in chemical vapour deposition methods have enabled the large-scale production of both intrinsic and doped graphene1,2,3,4,5,6, as well as hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN)7,8,9,10, controlled fabrication of lateral heterostructures in these truly atomically thin systems has not been achieved. Graphene/h-BN interfaces are of particular interest, because it is known that areas of different atomic compositions may coexist within continuous atomically thin films5,10 and that, with proper control, the bandgap and magnetic properties can be precisely engineered11,12,13. However, previously reported approaches for controlling these interfaces have fundamental limitations and cannot be easily integrated with conventional lithography14,15,16. Here we report a versatile and scalable process, which we call ‘patterned regrowth’, that allows for the spatially controlled synthesis of lateral junctions between electrically conductive graphene and insulating h-BN, as well as between intrinsic and substitutionally doped graphene. We demonstrate that the resulting films form mechanically continuous sheets across these heterojunctions. Conductance measurements confirm laterally insulating behaviour for h-BN regions, while the electrical behaviour of both doped and undoped graphene sheets maintain excellent properties, with low sheet resistances and high carrier mobilities. Our results represent an important step towards developing atomically thin integrated circuitry and enable the fabrication of electrically isolated active and passive elements embedded in continuous, one-atom-thick sheets, which could be manipulated and stacked to form complex devices at the ultimate thickness limit.
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We thank P. McEuen and M. Spencer for discussions. This work was mainly supported by AFOSR grants (FA9550-09-1-0691 and FA9550-10-1-0410) and the NSF through the Cornell Centers for Materials Research (NSF DMR-1120296), which also provided the electron microscopy facilities. Additional funding was provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. L.B. was partially supported by a Fullbright scholarship; R.W.H. and P.Y.H. were supported by an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Device fabrication was performed at the Cornell NanoScale Facility, a member of the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network, which is supported by the National Science Foundation (grant ECS-0335765).
An application has been filed for a provisional US patent titled “Patterned regrowth for atomically thin graphene and boron nitride lateral heterostructures.” based on this work.
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Levendorf, M., Kim, C., Brown, L. et al. Graphene and boron nitride lateral heterostructures for atomically thin circuitry. Nature 488, 627–632 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature11408
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