Easier Means of Getting Graphene onto Useful SubstrateCategory: Science & Technology
Posted: May 28, 2014 06:32AM
Since its properties were first discovered, researchers have been working on ways to put graphene to use. Among the challenges preventing its adoption in many technologies is that graphene is hard to get onto the materials you need it on. Researchers at MIT however have found a method to grow graphene directly on the material you want, and it is scalable.
The simplest way to produce graphene is actually very simple. You just take tape, place it on a piece of graphite, and pull the tape off. This will leave flakes of graphene of the tape, but those flakes are too small to be useful. Alternatively carbon atoms can be deposited onto metal films to grow graphene, but getting the graphene off of the film is difficult and can easily damage the graphene. What the researchers discovered combines these two methods, to a degree, by using chemical vapor deposition (CVD) to grow graphene on the top and bottom of a nickel film. The film and top layer of graphene can then be removed, leaving the bottom layer of graphene on the nonmetal substrate below the nickel.
This new technique could make it significantly easier to bring graphene to many technologies, such as displays, solar cells, and smart windows. There is still a great deal of work to be done though, to improve the graphene's quality and lower the temperature of the process, but at least it is already scalable to whatever size the CVD reactor is.