MRS Bulletin


Beyond Silicon: Carbon-Based Nanotechnology

Nathan P. Guisinger and Michael S. Arnold


For more than two decades, scientists and engineers have focused on impending limitations (from high-power densities and heat distribution to device patterning) that constrain the future miniaturization of conventional silicon technology. Thus far, academic and industrial efforts have risen to the challenge and continue to advance planar silicon processing, pushing traditional microtechnology to the nanometer scale. However, insurmountable limitations, both of physical nature and cost, still loom and motivate the research of new nanomaterials and technologies that have the potential to replace and/or enhance conventional silicon systems. As time has progressed, another Group IV element has emerged as a front-runner, looking beyond silicon, in the form of carbon-based nanotechnology. The focus of this issue is to provide a comprehensive look at the state-of-the-art in carbon-based nanomaterials and nanotechnologies and their potential impact on conventional silicon technologies, which are not limited to electronics but also encompass micro- and nanoelectromechanical systems, optoelectronics, and memory. Recent advances in carbon nanotube growth, sorting, and optoelectronics will be discussed, and the relatively new and surging area of graphene research will be introduced. In addition, progress in controlling the growth and properties of ultrananocrystalline and nanocrystalline diamond thin films will be reviewed. These efforts are multidisciplinary, heavily materials focused, and tend to translate information and ideas to other carbon-based studies (e.g., graphene is the building block of carbon nanotubes).

Nathan Guisinger, Guest Editor for this issue of MRS Bulletin, can be reached at Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL 60439, USA; and e-mail

Guisinger is a scientist at the Center for Nanoscale Materials at Argonne National Laboratory. In 2005, he received his PhD degree in materials science from Northwestern University, studying charge transport through individual organic molecules at the atomic scale. Prior to joining Argonne National Laboratory, Guisinger worked at the National Institute of Standards and Technology studying graphene under a National Research Council postdoctoral fellowship. His current research interests include the study of advanced materials, particularly complex oxides, graphene, CNTs, and molecular systems for advanced applications.

Michael S. Arnold, Guest Editor for this issue of MRS Bulletin, can be reached at the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706-1595, USA; and e-mail

Arnold has been an assistant professor with the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Wisconsin (UW)-Madison since August 2008. Arnold graduated summa cum laude from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a BS in electrical engineering in 2001. He earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree in 2006 from Northwestern University in materials science and engineering, where he studied the post-synthetic purification and sorting and noncovalent functionalization of carbon nano-tubes. He also conducted postdoctoral research at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he studied a new class of materials for broadband photodetectors based on simultaneous organic/carbon nanotube hybrid heterojunctions. Arnold directs the Advanced Materials for Energy and Electronics Group at UW-Madison, and his research interests include carbon-based materials for next-generation solar photo-voltaic, optoelectronic, and semiconductor logic devices.