Once Kaner and his colleagues found they could guide the tetraaniline solution to grow vertical crystals, they developed a one-step method for growing highly ordered, vertically aligned crystals for a variety of organic semiconductors using the same graphene substrate.
“The key was deciphering the interactions between organic semiconductors and graphene in various solvent environments, ” Wang said. “Once we understood this complex mechanism, growing vertical organic crystals became simple.”
Kaner said the researchers also discovered another advantage of the graphene substrate.
“This technique enables us to pattern crystals wherever we want, ” he said. “You could make electronic devices from these semiconductor crystals and grow them precisely in intricate patterns required for the device you want, such as thin-film transistors or light-emitting diodes.”
The paper’s other authors were UCLA graduate students James Torres, Shan Jiang and Michael Yeung; Adam Stieg, associate director of shared resources at CNSI and the scientific director of the Nano and Pico Characterization Lab; Yves Rubin, UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry; and Xiangfeng Duan, UCLA professor of chemistry and biochemistry. Co-author Santanu Chaudhuri is a principal research scientist at the Illinois Applied Research Institute at University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign.