Paraffin-enabled graphene transfer

By Dr Wei Sun Leong, Mr Haozhe Wang and Prof Jing Kong from Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

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Feb 27, 2019
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1. Could you briefly outline the key findings of your paper?

W. S. Leong: “Large-area graphene comes with two challenges: wrinkles and polymer residues which both limit device performance. Our project addresses these challenges by introducing a new transfer approach that simultaneously resolves the issues of wrinkles and polymer residues to produce smooth and clean large-area graphene. Electronic devices fabricated on such smooth graphene exhibits electrical performance approaching to that of intrinsic graphene with electron mobility as high as 7,438 cm2/V-s.”

2. What is your role in this work?
W. S. Leong: “I, along with my colleagues Haozhe, Jin-Yong, and my postdoctoral advisor, Prof. Jing Kong conceived the idea. I performed the experiments together with Haozhe and Jin-Yong, who both joined Kong’s lab much earlier than me and they are my teachers in graphene synthesis and PMMA-assisted graphene transfers. I also worked closely with Jingjie and Francisco from Prof. Markus Buehler’s group to understand the physics behind our experimental observations. I am grateful to work with all authors involved in this work.” 

3. What was the genesis of this paper?  How did you come to this particular problem?
W. S. Leong: “In this paper, we propose to use paraffin as a support layer, whose simple unreactive chemical structure and high thermal expansion coefficient enable transfer of ultraclean and wrinkle-less large-scale graphene.”
H. Wang: “Specifically, why paraffin first came to our mind? I would say paraffin is something that we commonly use in our daily life, e.g. floor and car waxing.”

4. What is the most empowering implication of your results?
W. S. Leong: “We observed much higher mobility in paraffin-transferred graphene compared to the conventional PMMA-transferred graphene samples.”
H. Wang: “Furthermore, introduction of a small thermal budget also dramatically reduces wrinkles in our paraffin-transferred graphene. We realize that paraffin is kind of born to be a suitable material for graphene transfers.”

5. How have 2D materials been uniquely instrumental to enabling these results?
W. S. Leong: “Graphene is the most typical 2D materials, and to date, there are still many unresolved issues in handling it. Realizing successful transfer technique in large-area graphene, our work opens new realms for any other 2D materials.”

6. Can you describe the main challenges associated to the preparation of this manuscript? Any anecdotes you’d like to share with us?
W. S. Leong: “I am greatly indebted to Prof. Jing Kong for her invaluable guidance and constant patience throughout the manuscript preparation. Indeed, the manuscript preparation went very very well. I am also thankful to be have the chance to work with a team of natural effective communicators at the MIT School of Engineering Communication Lab, since 2017.”

7. Anything that stroke you as particularly surprising, unexpectedly pleasant/unpleasant during the peer review process?
W. S. Leong: “One thing that surprise me is when one of the reviewers claimed he is happy to be contradicted that the manuscript is suitable for publication in Nature Communications. It was a “hurray” moment for all authors.”

9. Which is the development in the field of 2D materials that you would like to see in the next 10 years?
W. S. Leong and H. Wang: “In the next 10 years, we believe 2D materials will appear in many products that we use in daily life. There are two directions in 2D materials research: going to deep through physics investigation or making a much broader sense by heterogenous integration of 2D materials into current technology. We do believe 2D materials will be a game changer in many conventional industries.”

8. What is your favourite 2D paper published in 2017/2018, and why? 
W. S. Leong and H. Wang: “Our favourite paper is “Low Temperature Copper Bonding Strategy with Graphene Interlayer, ACS Nano 12, 2395–2402 (2018).”. The paper presents a bold trial to make a creative, revolutionary update in traditional techniques, by 2D materials integration. The work resolves holy grails in the existing copper bonding technology, by elegantly adding a graphene interlayer.”

10. And now, what’s next?
W. S. Leong and H. Wang: “We will continue our group efforts on making high-quality large-area 2D materials, both synthesis and manipulation.”

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Kanudha Sharda

Associate Editor, Nature Communications

Kanudha became a part of Condensed Matter Physics team at Nature Communications in November 2017. She graduated in physics from University of Delhi, India and was an Erasmus Mundus PhD scholar at Politecnico di Torino, Italy. She was a postdoc at Imperial College London where her research focused on the fabrication and characterization of devices based on layered transition metal dichalcogenide materials for electronic and energy storage applications. Kanudha handles manuscripts on synthesis and wider applications of two-dimensional materials and their heterostuctures.

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