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2D Nano-Electromechanical Devices

Evan Reed, Stanford University
Madan Dubey, Army Research Laboratory
Raju Namburu, Army Research Laboratory
Tomas Palacios, MIT Institute for Soldier Nanotechnology

Among the biggest challenges in harnessing the power of nanotechnology is achieving dynamic control of mechanical, chemical and electronic properties of nanoscale devices.  Many devices stand to benefit from such control including transistors, sensors, actuators, energy harvesters, motors, robots and other locomotive devices. In principle, dynamic control could be obtained by applying external electric fields to piezoelectric materials, but carbon-based nanomaterials like two-dimensional graphene, which was awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics, are not intrinsically piezoelectric.

As part of the Army’s HPC research center, we are developing new computational methods that link length scales to enable the design and simulation of electronic, optical, chemical, and mechanical devices based on 2D materials like graphene.   The function of practical 2D material devices, like transistors, is determined by a combination of local chemical effects on material properties (e.g. dopants) and longer length scale properties like wrinkles, substrate interactions, grain boundaries, etc. Our methods aim to couple macroscopic mechanical properties and environmental interactions with atomic scale chemistry to guide and interpret experimental efforts and enable device design.  We are also focused on the elucidation of electromechanical effects in 2D materials to achieve sensing and dynamical control in practical devices.

Short term applications of the research include the guidance and interpretation of experimental efforts to build practical 2D electronic devices, including graphene transistors.  Novel electromechanical effects have potential to ultimately lead to exciting new classes of nanoscale devices including dynamically configured electronic and optical devices, resonators, motors, and sensors.