"BENGRAS is a Marie Curie IIF project that focuses on multidisciplinary transfer of knowledge from a promising Australian early career researcher to KU Leuven towards the design and synthesis of novel functional nano-materials and the development of advanced analytical techniques for material analysis. The project will study bandgap engineering in graphene induced by physi- and chemi- sorption of self-assembled molecular monolayers, which is an interdisciplinary research topic centered at the interface between materials science, supramolecular chemistry, nanoscience and physics. Graphene, a material consisting of flat one-atom-thick sheets of carbon atoms has enormous potential for the use in electronic transistors because of the unique electronic properties and the reduced dimensionality. Graphene is a ‘zero-gap’ semiconductor and to unlock its electronic properties two basic requirements must be satisfied. Firstly, precise control over electronic band structure (bandgap) is needed. This can be achieved by adsorbing atoms and molecules (e.g. H, OH, K, NH3) on its surface thus generating local mid-gap states. Secondly, the means to control the degree of ordering and periodicity of modified graphene layers are to be derived. In other words, the regions where bandgap can be locally tuned have to be extended to a micron scale for practical applications. At present, this issue remains largely unexplored. This project will investigate the electronic structure of graphene the surface of which has been nano-patterned by physisorped (i.e. weak surface interactions) and covalent (i.e. strong surface interactions) molecular monolayers. Through BENGRAS the fellow will contribute extensive expertise in carbonaceous materials and spectroscopy towards controlled modification of electronic properties of graphene and, designing appropriate analytical methods for the study of low-dimensional materials using optical spectroscopy methods at the nanoscale."
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