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Atomic-Scale Electron-Beam Sculpting of Near-Defect-Free Graphene Nanostructures

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posted on 08.06.2011, 00:00 by Bo Song, Grégory F. Schneider, Qiang Xu, Grégory Pandraud, Cees Dekker, Henny Zandbergen
In order to harvest the many promising properties of graphene in (electronic) applications, a technique is required to cut, shape, or sculpt the material on the nanoscale without inducing damage to its atomic structure, as this drastically influences the electronic properties of the nanostructure. Here, we reveal a temperature-dependent self-repair mechanism that allows near-damage-free atomic-scale sculpting of graphene using a focused electron beam. We demonstrate that by sculpting at temperatures above 600 °C, an intrinsic self-repair mechanism keeps the graphene in a single-crystalline state during cutting, even though the electron beam induces considerable damage. Self-repair is mediated by mobile carbon ad-atoms that constantly repair the defects caused by the electron beam. Our technique allows reproducible fabrication and simultaneous imaging of single-crystalline free-standing nanoribbons, nanotubes, nanopores, and single carbon chains.