This collaborative research award provides funding for understanding and controlling the key factors in the local nanoscale thermal reduction of graphene oxide. In particular, the combination of computational modeling with experiments will give access to the efficiency and rate of the local thermal reduction during the thermochemical nanolithography process, and to the ultimate writing speed and resolution of this technique. The reduced form of graphene oxide (GO) is an attractive alternative to graphene for producing large-scale flexible conductors, supercapacitors, mechanical resonators, and for creating devices that require an electronic gap. Thermochemical nanolithography is a new nanofabrication technique in which heated probe tips can be used to locally control and tune the reduction of GO and pattern nanoscale regions of reduced GO within a GO sheet at speeds of several Âµm/s, with a resolution of 12 nm. The goal is the transition of this technology to arrays of several cantilevers with hot tips for parallel writing, and the integration of reduced GO nanostructures into field effect transistors prototypes.
The research will contribute to elucidate at the atomic-scale the structural properties of GO, the mechanisms driving the reduction process, and the physical-chemical transformations resulting from local heat transfer. This novel understanding will be converted into a modeling scheme to be used to engineering the nano-patterning process. This study will improve the community?s understanding of nanoscale processes and potentially provide inexpensive and robust tools to decrease the cost of nano-manufacturing. Since this project will be developed in close collaboration with an Italian group of the Politecnico of Milano, it will enable exchange of graduate students. In the current climate of outsourcing and globalization of economy, international training is an essential component for the education of our next generation of leaders.