Graphene, laterally confined within narrow ribbons, exhibits a bandgap and is envisioned as a next-generation material for high-performance electronics. We report the use of metal salts infused within stretched DNA as catalysts to grow nanoscopic graphitic nanoribbons (GraNRs). The DNA is converted to a GraNR utilizing chemical vapor deposition (CVD) conditions typical for single-layer graphene growth. The resultant GraNRs are micrometers in length and take on the shape of the DNA template. The GraNRs have been characterized using various spectroscopic methods and gave working field-effect transistors. Depending on the growth conditions metallic or semiconducting GraNRs are formed. This discovery opens up a new direction in catalysis of graphene growth via metal salts. In addition to DNA templates, other polymer which has nanometer feature size can also be applied for the GraNRs-synthesis. Improvements in the growth method have potential to lead to bottom-up synthesis of single-layer graphene nanoribbons.
Zhenan Bao* et al. Nature Communications, 4, 2402, doi:10.1038/ncomms3402