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Boron nitride substrates for high-quality graphene electronics

Abstract

Graphene devices on standard SiO2 substrates are highly disordered, exhibiting characteristics that are far inferior to the expected intrinsic properties of graphene1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12. Although suspending the graphene above the substrate leads to a substantial improvement in device quality13,14, this geometry imposes severe limitations on device architecture and functionality. There is a growing need, therefore, to identify dielectrics that allow a substrate-supported geometry while retaining the quality achieved with a suspended sample. Hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) is an appealing substrate, because it has an atomically smooth surface that is relatively free of dangling bonds and charge traps. It also has a lattice constant similar to that of graphite, and has large optical phonon modes and a large electrical bandgap. Here we report the fabrication and characterization of high-quality exfoliated mono- and bilayer graphene devices on single-crystal h-BN substrates, by using a mechanical transfer process. Graphene devices on h-BN substrates have mobilities and carrier inhomogeneities that are almost an order of magnitude better than devices on SiO2. These devices also show reduced roughness, intrinsic doping and chemical reactivity. The ability to assemble crystalline layered materials in a controlled way permits the fabrication of graphene devices on other promising dielectrics15 and allows for the realization of more complex graphene heterostructures.

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Figure 1: Mechanical transfer process.
Figure 2: Atomic force microscopy.
Figure 3: Transport properties.
Figure 4: Magnetotransport.

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Acknowledgements

The authors thank D. Sukhdeo and N. Baklitskaya for help with device fabrication. This work is supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Carbon Electronics for RF Applications), Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Office of Naval Research, Semiconductor Research Corporation Focus Center Research Program, The National Science Foundation (CHE-0117752), New York State Foundation for Science, and Technology and Innovation (NYSTAR).

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Contributions

C.R.D. and A.F.Y. performed the experiments, including sample fabrication, measurement, characterization and development of the transfer technique. I.M. contributed to sample fabrication, measurement and development of the transfer technique. C.L. and W.L. contributed to sample fabrication. S.S. contributed to development of the transfer technique. K.W. and T.T. synthesized the h-BN samples. P.K., K.L.S., and J.H. provided advice on the experiments.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to C. R. Dean or J. Hone.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

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Dean, C., Young, A., Meric, I. et al. Boron nitride substrates for high-quality graphene electronics. Nature Nanotech 5, 722–726 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1038/nnano.2010.172

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