Room temperature detection of individual molecular physisorption using suspended bilayer graphene

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Science Advances  15 Apr 2016:
Vol. 2, no. 4, e1501518
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1501518


Detection of individual molecular adsorption, which represents the ultimate resolution of gas sensing, has rarely been realized with solid-state devices. So far, only a few studies have reported detection of individual adsorption by measuring the variation of electronic transport stemming from the charge transfer of adsorbate. We report room-temperature detection of the individual physisorption of carbon dioxide molecules with suspended bilayer graphene (BLG) based on a different mechanism. An electric field introduced by applying back-gate voltage is used to effectively enhance the adsorption rate. A unique device architecture is designed to induce tensile strain in the BLG to prevent its mechanical deflection onto the substrate by electrostatic force. Despite the negligible charge transfer from a single physisorbed molecule, it strongly affects the electronic transport in suspended BLG by inducing charged impurity, which can shut down part of the conduction of the BLG with Coulomb impurity scattering. Accordingly, we can detect each individual physisorption as a step-like resistance change with a quantized value in the BLG. We use density functional theory simulation to theoretically estimate the possible resistance response caused by Coulomb scattering of one adsorbed CO2 molecule, which is in agreement with our measurement.

  • graphene
  • Physisorption
  • Coulomb Impurity Scattering
  • Gas Sensing

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