(SciTechDaily) A team of physicists and chemists has produced the first porous graphene ribbons in which specific carbon atoms in the crystal lattice are replaced with nitrogen atoms. These ribbons have semiconducting properties that make them attractive for applications in electronics and quantum computing, as reported by researchers from the Universities of Basel, Bern, Lancaster and Warwick in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.
In order to synthesize these porous, nitrogen-containing graphene ribbons, the researchers heated the individual building blocks step by step on a silver surface in a vacuum. The ribbons are formed at temperatures up to 220°C. Atomic force microscopy allowed the researchers not only to monitor the individual steps in the synthesis, but also to confirm the perfect ladder structure – and stability – of the molecule.
From the literature, it is known that a high concentration of nitrogen atoms in the crystal lattice causes graphene ribbons to magnetize when subjected to a magnetic field. “We expect these porous, nitrogen-doped graphene ribbons to display extraordinary magnetic properties,” says Ernst Meyer. “In the future, the ribbons could therefore be of interest for applications in quantum computing.”