TitleElectrical characterization of thermally reduced graphite oxide
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2010
AuthorsJewell, I
UniversityOregon State University
CityCorvallis, Or.

This thesis describes the transport properties observed in thermally treated graphite oxide (GO), which holds promise as an economical route to obtaining graphene. Graphene is a material consisting of a single atomic plane of carbon atoms and was first isolated as recently as 2004. Several isolation techniques have been investigated, including mechanical exfoliation, chemical vapor deposition, and the reduction (by various methods) of chemically synthesized graphite oxide. Two fundamental questions are pursued in this work. The first is concerned with the maximum electrical conductivity that can be achieved in atomically thin reduced graphite oxide samples (rGO). As produced, GO is insulating and of little use electronically. By heating and exposure to reducing atmospheres, however, the conductivity can be increased. Through the lithographic definition and fabrication of four-point contact structures atop microscopic samples of GO, the resistance of the sample can be monitored in situ as the reduction process takes place. It was discovered that the resistance of few-layer GO could be decreased by an order of magnitude when heated to 200 °C and subsequently cooled back to room temperature in forming gas. Final resistivities were on the order of 0.5 [omega]-cm. An ambipolar field effect was observed in the thermally treated samples, with resistance decreasing by up to 16 % under a substrate bias of "20 V. Mobilites were inferred to be on the order of 0.1 cm2/V-s. It was also found that the presence of forming gas during reduction decreased the resistance of the GO samples by roughly one half. The second question that this work begins to answer is concerned with the distance that electrons can travel in such thermally-reduced GO before spin-randomizing scattering. The answer can be elucidated with the aid of magnetoresistance measurements using ferromagnetic contacts to inject a spin-polarized current through the sample. The observation of the magnetoresistive effect with the contacts separated by a certain distance can be taken as evidence of a spin coherence length in the material of at least that distance. Though this experiment has not yet been carried out, progress has been made toward its possibility; specifically in the fabrication and characterization of independently switchable magnetic contacts. By exploiting magnetic shape anisotropy, contact pairs have been fabricated and demonstrated to differ in magnetic coercivity by up to 8 Oe.