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Australian researchers pioneer graphene process using epitaxial SiC

Technique scalable to 300mm wafers

Researchers at Griffith University in Australia are successfully fabricating graphene from silicon carbide on silicon wafers using a process they say is scalable to 300mm mass production wafers.

Dr Francesca Iacopi's team are using the Australian National Fabrication Facility's (ANFF) Silicon Carbide Epitaxial reactor located at the Queensland Micro and Nanotechnology Centre at Griffith. They have combined the production of low cost silicon carbide wafers (made through the deposition of a high quality SiC layer onto low cost Si wafers), with the ability to pattern and etch this material using a plasma and finally to use novel low-temperature technology to synthesise graphene on only the required pattern.

The researchers say that the combination of a crystalline SiC core with a surface graphene coating is ideal for sensing devices. The exceptional mechanical properties of SiC (which is the second hardest material after diamonds) can be further enhanced by graphene, resulting in excellent fracture strength. Additionally, graphene offers a wealth of surface chemistry approaches for targeting specific ions and molecules. 

Earlier this year, the team produced SiC micro-resonators by replacing the traditional metals with a one molecule thick, transparent, highly conductive graphene layer. This work was detailed in a paper called 'Microresonators with Q-factors over a million from highly stressed epitaxial silicon carbide on silicon' by A.R Kermany et al in Applied Physics Letters 104, 081901 (2014).

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