New developments in the design of high-precision graphene nanoribbons

  • Research

First publication date: 07/09/2023

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Professor Aurelio Mateo-Alonso's research group | Photo: Polymat

Researchers in the group of Professor Aurelio Mateo-Alonso, Ikerbasque research professor at POLYMAT and the UPV/EHU, in collaboration with researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (Germany) and the University of Aveiro (Portugal), have published a paper in the journal Chem that provides a new method for producing high-precision graphene nanoribbons.

The discovery of graphene has opened up a whole host of possibilities in the development of new materials. When graphene is cut into nanometre-sized ribbons (graphene nanoribbons), it is possible to obtain materials with electrical and magnetic properties that vary depending on the way the edges of the ribbons are trimmed, and on the width and length of the ribbons themselves. So it is crucial to develop methods enabling graphene nanoribbons to be produced with atomic precision with a view to developing their potential applications. These new materials are expected to facilitate the miniaturisation of electronic and spintronic devices, essential in the development of new technologies in electronics and quantum computing.

A team of researchers from POLYMAT, the UPV/EHU, the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (Germany) and the University of Aveiro (Portugal) have developed a new method for synthesising graphene nanoribbons that breaks all records in terms of both precision and length. This new method combines complementary 2-nanometre nanoribbons, like Lego bricks, thus generating 36-nanometre nanoribbons with full atomic precision.

It is also worth highlighting the fact that electrical conductivity increases with ribbon length, which could allow new and more efficient electronic devices to be developed, and that exceptional light absorption and emission properties that exceed those of quantum dots have been observed. So graphene nanoribbons could expand their application potential to other fields, such as energy, LEDs, and medical imaging.

Professor Mateo-Alonso was awarded a degree (1999) and a Master’s degree (2000) in Organic Chemistry at the Autonomous University of Madrid. He then went on to gain a PhD in Chemistry (2004) from Queen Mary College, University of London (UK). During 2004 and 2009, he worked at the University of Trieste (Italy) as a Postdoctoral Researcher. In 2009 he started his independent research career as Group Leader at the Freiburg Institute for Advanced Studies (Germany). Since 2012 he has been leading the Molecular and Supramolecular Materials group at POLYMAT and at the UPV/EHU as an Ikerbasque research professor.

His research work has been recognised nationally and internationally with various awards including: the Young Researchers Award of the University of Trieste (Italy 2007); the Eugen-Graetz Award of the University of Freiburg (Germany 2009); the Young Researchers Award of the Royal Spanish Chemical Society-RSEQ (Spain 2011); the Young Researchers Award of the Nanocarbon Division of the American Electrochemical Society (USA 2012); and the RSEQ award for Research Excellence (2021).

Professor Mateo-Alonso's research group is working to synthesise and characterise new nanocarbons and explore their potential for applications in electronics and energy.

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