A new side-view imaging technique can be used to visualize the individual atomic layers of graphene within the devices they have built. They found that the structures were almost perfect even when more than 10 different layers were used to build the stack. This surprising result indicates that the latest techniques of isolating graphene could be a huge leap forward for engineering at the atomic level.
Cross-sectional imaging of individual layers and buried interfaces of graphene-based heterostructures and superlattices, by S. J. Haigh et al. Nature Materials, 2012.
The researchers' side-view imaging approach works by first extracting a thin slice from the centre of the device. This is similar to cutting through a rock to reveal the geological layers or slicing into a chocolate gateaux to reveal the individual layers of icing. The scientists used a beam of ions to cut into the surface of the graphene and dig a trench on either side of the section they wanted to isolate. They then removed a thin slice of the device. Wonder material graphene is a two dimensional material consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb or chicken wire structure. It is the thinnest material in the world and yet is also one of the strongest. It conducts electricity as efficiently as copper and outperforms all other materials as a conductor of heat.
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