Screening of charged impurities as a possible mechanism for conductance change in graphene gas sensing

Sang Zi Liang, Gugang Chen, Avetik R. Harutyunyan, Jorge O. Sofo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


In carbon nanotube and graphene gas sensing, the measured conductance change after the sensor is exposed to target molecules has been traditionally attributed to carrier density change due to charge transfer between the sample and the adsorbed molecule. However, this explanation has many problems when it is applied to graphene: The increased amount of Coulomb impurities should lead to decrease in carrier mobility which was not observed in many experiments, carrier density is controlled by the gate voltage in the experimental setup, and there are inconsistencies in the energetics of the charge transfer. In this paper we explore an alternative mechanism. Charged functional groups and dipolar molecules on the surface of graphene may counteract the effect of charged impurities on the substrate. Because scattering of electrons with these charged impurities has been shown to be the limiting factor in graphene conductivity, this leads to significant changes in the transport behavior. A model for the conductivity is established using the random phase approximation dielectric function of graphene and the first-order Born approximation for scattering. The model predicts optimal magnitudes for the charge and dipole moment which maximally screen a given charged impurity. The dipole screening is shown to be generally weaker than the charge screening although the former becomes more effective with higher gate voltage away from the charge neutrality point. The model also predicts that with increasing amount of adsorbates, the charge impurities eventually become saturated and additional adsorption always lead to decreasing conductivity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number115410
JournalPhysical Review B - Condensed Matter and Materials Physics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Sep 8 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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