The History of Graphene

Graphene is a thin layer of pure carbon atoms, which are tightly packed together in a hexagonal arrangement. The semiconductor industry is excited about graphene, and is currently pouring resources into research and development as graphene could potentially replace semiconductor silicon wafers due to its many advantageous properties:

  • Electricity. Graphene conducts electricity at higher levels than most materials.
  • Heat Conductor. At room temperature, graphene is the best material for conducting heat.
  • Lightweight. Graphene is the lightest compound available with 1 square meter weighing in at only .77 milligrams.
  • Strong. Graphene is the strongest of all compounds, with a tensile stiffness of 150,000,000 psi.
  • Thin. At only one-atom thick, these layers of carbon are thinner than any other compound.

Semiconductor suppliers and others in the industry first began research on this game changing compound through their work on carbon nanotubes. They found that the nanotubes had highly electronic capabilities, but the semiconductor manufacturing industry could not figure out a way to manufacture them in a controlled way. Researchers also had issues scaling the carbon nanotubes, which were single-tube transistors, into larger circuits necessary for various technologies.

While carbon nanotubes had many highly beneficial properties, they were proving to be an unsuccessful material for semiconductor manufacturing; however, this all changed in 2001. During this year, Walt de Heer, an epitaxial graphene researcher, discovered that the unrolled nanotubes, or two-dimensional graphene, had the same properties as the rolled carbon nanotubes. This knowledge set off a spark in the semiconductor manufacturing industry, leading to further research on carbon applications.

Semiconductor suppliers today have found a few ways to make and manufacture graphene. One of the best methods is to use thermal sublimation on a semiconductor silicon carbide to remove the silicon from the surface. With the silicon gone, thin layers of carbon are left to form sheets of graphene, which can be used to form millions of semiconductor manufacturing products.

At Shin-Etsu MicroSi, we specialize in developing and manufacturing materials for use in the semiconductor manufacturing industry. Our team stays on top of the latest developments, such as graphene, and offers our customers only the most advanced, highest quality products. For more information, please call Shin-Etsu Phoenix at (480) 893-8898 or contact us online.