AFRL and Australia Share Material Development

The Air Force Research Laboratory is working with Australian researchers on the development of graphene semiconductor materials.

In recognition of the importance of new material development for advanced defense electronics technologies, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory Materials and Manufacturing Directorate (AFRL/RX) and Australia’s Griffith University of Nathan have entered a material transfer agreement (MTA) that allows for joint R&D efforts. The focus of the MTA is on the development of advanced graphene materials, possibly for electronic circuit applications. As part of the MTA, the university delivered samples of an epitaxial cubic silicon carbide (3C-SiC) on silicon (Si) substrates. Graphene material is an attractive candidate for future high-power electronic circuits because of its extremely high conductivity, flexibility, and strength compared to conventional circuit substrate materials.

The AFRL/RX has worked with the Griffith University of Nathan for several years. The university contains a nanofabrication facility for growing SiC material epitaxially on silicon substrates. It is one of the few facilities in the world that can grow the material and convert it into graphene.

As part of the R&D efforts, AFRL scientists use cross-sectional transmission electron microscopy to analyze material quality. They are working in collaboration with scientists at the U. S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) who examine the electrical behavior of nanoscale device structures fabricated from the materials. The team efforts also involve the use of x-ray spectroscopy test equipment in the Australian Synchrotron Facility (Melbourne) to identify a buffer layer of graphene on the 3C-SiC, as well as to help refine the features of device nanostructures fabricated on these experimental materials.

 “Working with the U.S. Air Force and other U.S. military laboratories has been a boon to my research interests and shows how a strong international collaboration can enhance and benefit each country’s interests,” said Francesca Iacopi, a Griffith University professor recognized for her pioneering graphene synthesis efforts. Iacopi recently accepted a new position at the University of Technology in Sydney to continue this research.

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