Preliminary theoretical calculations show that it might be possible to develop a nanotech application in which clusters of a few boron atoms connect very small graphene semiconductors to make nanoelectronic devices. From nanotechweb.org, written by Belle Dumé (requires free registration) “Nanowiring using boron clusters“:
A model system that could serve as a “blueprint” for graphene-based nanodevices of the future has been put forward by scientists in Italy, Turkey and Germany. The model involves using alternating chains of boron clusters to connect various parts of a semiconducting graphene substrate. The concept is very similar to that routinely employed in silicon-based integrated circuits, but the resulting graphene-based devices would be several orders of magnitude smaller.
Graphene is set to become one of the key materials in future nanotechnology applications. However, graphene-based devices studied so far are on the micron rather than nanoscale because they mainly consist of broad sheets of graphene connected by wiring of about the same size.
Now, Jens Kunstmann of the Max-Planck Institute for Festkörperforschung in Stuttgart and colleagues have proposed a way to take the wiring down to the nanoscale by implanting chains of B7 clusters into the graphene matrix. These clusters might then be used to connect various areas of a semiconducting graphene substrate.
Previous theoretical studies on heterogeneous nanotubular boron-carbon networks by the team have shown that boron and carbon are compatible on the nanoscale. The researchers have gone a step further and calculated that small planar boron clusters embedded into a graphene substrate act as metallic islands. These functionalize the surrounding graphene to allow electron transport through the substrate.
The research paper “Functionalizing graphene by embedded boron clusters” is available at arXiv.org.