1State Key Laboratory of Mesoscopic Physics and Department of Physics, Peking University, Beijing, PR China
2Academy for Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies, Peking University, Beijing, PR China
3Department of Theoretical and Computational Molecular Science, Institute for Molecular Science, Okazaki, Japan
4Department of Physics, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, NE, USA
Correspondence: Professor J Lu, State Key Laboratory of Mesoscopic Physics and Department of Physics, Peking University, Chengfu Road, Beijing 100871, PR China. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
5These authors contributed equally to this work.
Received 7 September 2011; Revised 29 November 2011; Accepted 7 December 2011
Graphene: Mind the gap
Jing Lu and co-workers have revealed how to open up a tunable band gap in single-layer graphene, the one-atom-thick honeycomb carbon layer that has sparked much interest both in fundamental physics and in practical applications. Although graphene's excellent mechanical, thermal and electrical properties are very attractive, one major drawback is its lack of ‘band gap’ — the energy gap in the electronic structure of a material that enables to switch its conductivity on and off. Previous attempts to create such a gap in single-layer graphene have typically damaged its structure or conductivity. Through extensive calculations, the researchers have now examined the properties of single-layer graphene when sandwiched between two honeycomb boron nitride (BN) layers. They revealed that for a specific positioning of the layers, a sizable band gap can be opened and further tuned by applying an electric field without causing damage, making the sandwich structure a promising component for field-effect transistors.