Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Silicon carbide


Tailoring and assembling graphene into functional macrostructures with well-defined configuration are key for many promising applications. We report on a graphene-based woven fabric (GWF) prepared by interlacing two sets of graphene micron-ribbons where the ribbons pass each other essentially at right angles. By using a woven copper mesh as the template, the GWF grown from chemical vapour deposition retains the network configuration of the copper mesh. Embedded into polymer matrices, it has significant flexibility and strength gains compared with CVD grown graphene films. The GWFs display both good dimensional stability in both the warp and the weft directions and the combination of film transparency and conductivity could be optimized by tuning the ribbon packing density. The GWF creates a platform to integrate a large variety of applications, e.g., composites, strain sensors and solar cells, by taking advantages of the special structure and properties of graphene.

Concepts: Chemical vapor deposition, Silicon carbide, Angle, Textile, Cartesian coordinate system, Woven, Weaving, Woven fabrics


We report a novel approach to synthesize chemical vapor deposition-grown three-dimensional graphene nano-networks (3D-GNs) that can be mass produced with large-area coverage. Annealing of a PVA/iron precursor under a hydrogen environment, infiltrated into 3D-assembled-colloidal silicas reduces iron ions and generates few-layer graphene by precipitation of carbon on the iron surface. The 3D-GN can be grown on any electronic device-compatible substrate, such as Al2O3, Si, GaN, or Quartz. The conductivity and surface area of a 3D-GN are 52 S/cm and 1,025 m(2)/g, respectively, which are much better than the previously reported values. Furthermore, electrochemical double-layer capacitors based on the 3D-GN have superior supercapacitor performance with a specific capacitance of 245 F/g and 96.5% retention after 6,000 cycles due to the outstanding conductivity and large surface area. The excellent performance of the 3D-GN as an electrode for supercapacitors suggests the great potential of interconnected graphene networks in nano-electronic devices and energy-related materials.

Concepts: Earth, Hydrogen, Industrial Revolution, Carbon, Aluminium, Chemical vapor deposition, Silicon carbide, Surface area


We report hot filament thermal CVD (HFTCVD) as a new hybrid of hot filament and thermal CVD and demonstrate its feasibility by producing high quality large area strictly monolayer graphene films on Cu substrates. Gradient in gas composition and flow rate that arises due to smart placement of the substrate inside the Ta filament wound alumina tube accompanied by radical formation on Ta due to precracking coupled with substrate mediated physicochemical processes like diffusion, polymerization etc., led to graphene growth. We further confirmed our mechanistic hypothesis by depositing graphene on Ni and SiO(2)/Si substrates. HFTCVD can be further extended to dope graphene with various heteroatoms (H, N, and B, etc.,), combine with functional materials (diamond, carbon nanotubes etc.,) and can be extended to all other materials (Si, SiO(2), SiC etc.,) and processes (initiator polymerization, TFT processing) possible by HFCVD and thermal CVD.

Concepts: Carbon, Aluminium, Carbon nanotube, Graphite, Graphene, Materials science, Chemical vapor deposition, Silicon carbide


Thermal chemical vapour deposition techniques for graphene fabrication, while promising, are thus far limited by resource-consuming and energy-intensive principles. In particular, purified gases and extensive vacuum processing are necessary for creating a highly controlled environment, isolated from ambient air, to enable the growth of graphene films. Here we exploit the ambient-air environment to enable the growth of graphene films, without the need for compressed gases. A renewable natural precursor, soybean oil, is transformed into continuous graphene films, composed of single-to-few layers, in a single step. The enabling parameters for controlled synthesis and tailored properties of the graphene film are discussed, and a mechanism for the ambient-air growth is proposed. Furthermore, the functionality of the graphene is demonstrated through direct utilization as an electrode to realize an effective electrochemical genosensor. Our method is applicable to other types of renewable precursors and may open a new avenue for low-cost synthesis of graphene films.

Concepts: Electrochemistry, Carbon nanotube, Chemical vapor deposition, Silicon carbide, Metaphysics, Semiconductor device fabrication, Vacuum, Physical vapor deposition


Glasses and single crystals have traditionally been used as optical windows. Recently, there has been a high demand for harder and tougher optical windows that are able to endure severe conditions. Transparent polycrystalline ceramics can fulfill this demand because of their superior mechanical properties. It is known that polycrystalline ceramics with a spinel structure in compositions of MgAl2O4 and aluminum oxynitride (γ-AlON) show high optical transparency. Here we report the synthesis of the hardest transparent spinel ceramic, i.e. polycrystalline cubic silicon nitride (c-Si3N4). This material shows an intrinsic optical transparency over a wide range of wavelengths below its band-gap energy (258 nm) and is categorized as one of the third hardest materials next to diamond and cubic boron nitride (cBN). Since the high temperature metastability of c-Si3N4 in air is superior to those of diamond and cBN, the transparent c-Si3N4 ceramic can potentially be used as a window under extremely severe conditions.

Concepts: Optical fiber, Silicon, Diamond, Silicon carbide, Ceramic materials, Boron nitride, Transparent materials, Silicon nitride


A 2D metastable carbon allotrope, penta-graphene, composed entirely of carbon pentagons and resembling the Cairo pentagonal tiling, is proposed. State-of-the-art theoretical calculations confirm that the new carbon polymorph is not only dynamically and mechanically stable, but also can withstand temperatures as high as 1000 K. Due to its unique atomic configuration, penta-graphene has an unusual negative Poisson’s ratio and ultrahigh ideal strength that can even outperform graphene. Furthermore, unlike graphene that needs to be functionalized for opening a band gap, penta-graphene possesses an intrinsic quasi-direct band gap as large as 3.25 eV, close to that of ZnO and GaN. Equally important, penta-graphene can be exfoliated from T12-carbon. When rolled up, it can form pentagon-based nanotubes which are semiconducting, regardless of their chirality. When stacked in different patterns, stable 3D twin structures of T12-carbon are generated with band gaps even larger than that of T12-carbon. The versatility of penta-graphene and its derivatives are expected to have broad applications in nanoelectronics and nanomechanics.

Concepts: Nanomaterials, Semiconductor, Allotropy, Materials science, Silicon carbide, Young's modulus, Zinc oxide, Band gap


Owing to its high carrier mobility, conductivity, flexibility and optical transparency, graphene is a versatile material in micro- and macroelectronics. However, the low density of electrochemically active defects in graphene synthesized by chemical vapour deposition limits its application in biosensing. Here, we show that graphene doped with gold and combined with a gold mesh has improved electrochemical activity over bare graphene, sufficient to form a wearable patch for sweat-based diabetes monitoring and feedback therapy. The stretchable device features a serpentine bilayer of gold mesh and gold-doped graphene that forms an efficient electrochemical interface for the stable transfer of electrical signals. The patch consists of a heater, temperature, humidity, glucose and pH sensors and polymeric microneedles that can be thermally activated to deliver drugs transcutaneously. We show that the patch can be thermally actuated to deliver Metformin and reduce blood glucose levels in diabetic mice.

Concepts: Enzyme, Insulin, Diabetes mellitus, Optical fiber, Obesity, Blood sugar, Silicon carbide, Semiconductor device fabrication


As silicon-based electronics approach the limit of improvements to performance and capacity through dimensional scaling, attention in the semiconductor field has turned to graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb lattice. Its high mobility of charge carriers (electrons and holes) could lead to its use in the next generation of high-performance devices. Graphene is unlikely to replace silicon completely, however, because of the poor on/off current ratio resulting from its zero bandgap. But it could be used to improve silicon-based devices, in particular in high-speed electronics and optical modulators.

Concepts: Electron, Electric charge, Atom, Chemical element, Carbon, Semiconductor, Silicon, Silicon carbide


We have found that individual presolar silicon carbide (SiC) dust grains from supernovae show a positive correlation between 49Ti and 28Si excesses, which is attributed to the radioactive decay of the short-lived (t½ = 330 days) 49V to 49Ti in the inner highly 28Si-rich Si/S zone. The 49V-49Ti chronometer shows that these supernova SiC dust grains formed at least 2 years after their parent stars exploded. This result supports recent dust condensation calculations that predict a delayed formation of carbonaceous and SiC grains in supernovae. The astronomical observation of continuous buildup of dust in supernovae over several years can, therefore, be interpreted as a growing addition of C-rich dust to the dust reservoir in supernovae.

Concepts: Energy, Supernova, Radioactive decay, Carbon, Uranium, Silicon carbide, Neutrino, Type II supernova


Silver is a desirable platform for graphene growth because of the potential for hybrid graphene plasmonics and its emerging role as a preferred growth substrate for other two-dimensional materials, such as silicene. Here we demonstrate the direct growth of monolayer graphene on a single-crystal Ag(111) substrate. The inert nature of Ag has made it difficult to use for graphene synthesis using standard chemical vapour deposition techniques, which we have overcome by using an elemental carbon source. Atomic-scale scanning tunnelling microscopy reveals that the atomically clean graphene-silver substrate is free of organic residue and other contaminants. The dendritic graphene possesses a variety of edge terminations, many of which give rise to quantum interferences previously seen only on insulating substrates. This scattering supports spectroscopic evidence that the graphene electronic structure is minimally perturbed by the underlying silver, providing a new system in which graphene is decoupled from its growth substrate.

Concepts: Chemistry, Atom, Chemical element, Carbon, Carbon nanotube, Silicon carbide, Thin film, Ion plating