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Small. 2011 Mar 21;7(6):775-80. doi: 10.1002/smll.201001916. Epub 2011 Feb 2.

Structured graphene devices for mass transport.

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CIN2 (ICN-CSIC) Barcelona, Campus UAB, E-08193 Bellaterra, Spain.


The reversible atomic-mass transport along graphene devices has been achieved. The motion of Al and Au in the form of atoms or clusters is driven by applying an electric field between the metal electrodes that contact the graphene sheet. It is shown that Al moves in the direction of the applied electric field whereas Au tends to diffuse in all directions. The control of the motion of Al is further demonstrated by achieving a 90° turn, using a graphene device patterned in a crossroads configuration. The controlled motion of Al is attributed to the charge transfer from Al onto the graphene so that the Al is effectively charged and can be accelerated by the applied electric field. To get further insight into the actuation mechanism, theoretical simulations of individual Al and Au impurities on a perfect graphene sheet were performed. The direct (electrostatic) force was found to be ∼1 pN and dominant over the wind force. These findings hold promise for practical use in future mass transport in complex circuits.

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