Research Highlights

“Advancing the Commercialization of Two-Dimensional Materials: Achieving the Goal with UV-Assisted Atomic Layer Deposition”

2023-08-02 309

[Researchers from POSTECH, Seoul National University of Science and Technology (SEOULTECH), and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) make significant strides in creating a high-performance graphene-dielectric interface through UV-assisted atomic layer deposition and related technology]

In 2004, the public first became acquainted with graphene- a remarkably thin, flexible, and electrically conductive material possessing considerable strength. However, harnessing graphene’s potential as a component has presented numerous challenges. For instance, creating electrode-based transistors requires depositing extremely thin dielectric films*1. Regrettably, this process has led to a reduction in graphene’s electrical properties and caused defects during implementation.

안지환 교수팀_뷰페이지(en)A research team comprising of co-researchers including Professor Jihwan An from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), Dr. Jeong Woo Shin from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at NTU Singapore, and Geonwoo Park from the Department of MSDE at SEOULTECH employed a novel approach called UV-assisted atomic layer deposition (UV-ALD) to treat graphene electrode. This pioneering technique resulted in successful production of high-performance graphene-dielectric interface. Their findings were featured as the front cover article in the July edition of Advanced Electronic Materials, the esteemed journal in the field.

본문 표지 사진
The research team became the first to apply UV-ALD to the deposition of dielectric films onto the surface of graphene which is a 2D material. Atomic layer deposition (ALD) involves adding ultra-thin layers at the atomic scale to a substrate, and its significance has grown considerably as semiconductor components have shrunk in size. UV-ALD, which combines ultraviolet light with the deposition process, enables more dielectric film placement than traditional ALD. However, no one had explored the application of UV-ALD for 2D materials such as graphene.

The research team employed UV light with a low energy range (below 10 eV*) to deposit atomic layer dielectric films onto the graphene surface, effectively activating the graphene surface without compromising its inherent properties. This activation was achieved under specific conditions (within 5 seconds per cycle during the ALD process), demonstrating the possibility of depositing high-density, high-purity atomic layer dielectric films at low temperatures (below 100℃). Furthermore, when graphene field effect transistors were fabricated using UV-ALD process, the graphene’s exceptional electrical properties remained intact. The outcome was a three-fold increase in charge mobility and a significant reduction in Dirac voltage*3 due to the reduced defects on the graphene surface.

Professor Jihwan An who led the research explained, “Through UV-ALD, we achieved high-performance graphene-dielectric interface.” He further added, “Our study resulted in uniform atomic layer deposition without compromising the properties of this 2D material. I hope this development will pave the way for the next-generation semi-conductor and energy devices.”

The study was conducted with the support from the Project for Key Research Institutes for Universities and the Mid-Career Researcher Project of the National Research Foundation of Korea, and the Nano Technology Convergence Industry Development Program of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.

1. Dielectric film
A thin insulating layer that facilitates proper transmission of electrical signals within an electronic device, shielding other components from potential interference.

2. eV
A unit of energy used to measure the energy of charged particles. 1 eV represents the kinetic energy gained by an electron when accelerated by lV.

3. Dirac voltage
The voltage existing between the gate and source of a device where conductivity is at its minimum. In an ideal graphene scenario, this value approaches 0V.