A team of Swiss researchers have created the first-ever porous graphene ribbons in which specific carbon atoms in the ribbon’s delicate lattice structure are replaced with single nitrogen atoms. The discovery could represent a breakthrough for technological applications including quantum computing.
Scientists the world over have explored ways to harness the incredible strength and electrical conductivity of graphene, including substituting atoms of various elements for carbon atoms on the graphene lattice. The material’s electrical and magnetic properties can also be augmented by forming pores in the structure.
The newly formed material looks like a ladder where each “rung” contains two nitrogen atoms, according to Phys.org.
To make the nitrogen-doped porous graphene ribbons, the team heated the material’s individual components at temperatures up to 220-degrees Celsius on a silver surface located within a vacuum. The researchers were able to verify the ladder structure of the molecule using an atomic microscope.
By adding a large number of nitrogen atoms to graphene’s lattice form, it increases the magnetism of the material. This is of particular interest to the researchers because it could pave the way to quantum computing applications in the future.