No matter how amazing a material may be, if it cannot be produced in large enough quantities, it will be useless to society. That is why researchers across the globe are working to develop ways of mass producing graphene. Now a group led by researchers at the University of Oxford has found a way to grow graphene without defects, and the method should be scalable to large sizes.
Chemical vapor deposition is one of the more traditional means of growing graphene. It involves filling a chamber with hot carbon atoms that cool and fall onto a substrate at the bottom, similar to snow falling and covering the ground. Also like snowfall, the carbon atoms can first collect in different places, and with different orientations. Eventually these graphene 'domains' will grow and bump into each other, but because the different orientations do not line up correctly, there will be defects at the seams. What the Oxford researchers have found is that the atomic structure of a copper substrate and the pressure applied while the graphene grows can be used to align the domains, and thereby remove the defects.
In theory this approach can be scaled up to produce sheets of defect-free graphene as large as desired, so long as there is a copper substrate for the atoms to land on. If graphene-based technology is ever going to reach consumers, such a means of production will be required.
Source: University of Oxford