Graphene technology breakthroughs are now delivering serious commercial applications and platforms.
The emergence of graphene technology back in 2004 sent physicists and electronics engineers into euphoric spasms about its operational potential.
But as always with ground-breaking, technologies that old bean-counting devil called financial viability raised its head when it came to integrating graphene into commercial applications.
Challenges With Graphene – One of the problems during those pioneering days was the fact the graphene technology had so many varied and attractive properties and this meant it’s possible applications were numerous, to say the least.
However, in the enthusiastic rush to use the technology pragmatism took a back seat and some developers drastically overlooked the practical challenges in applying graphene to certain commercial areas.
But those days are disappearing and graphene is starting to fulfil its promises in a whole raft of applications from both technical and financial perspectives.
Graphene Technology Breakthroughs
More on those later but firstly let’s take a look at a couple of the latest and very exciting graphene breakthroughs that have a direct impact on the electronics industry. Over at the Danish funded Centre for Nanostructured Graphene at DTU and Aalborg University, researchers have finally cracked a well-known problem with graphene which focuses on how holes are made in the material.
This may sound simplistic but the pattern of holes dictates how the electrons in the material behave and this has direct relevance to how graphene can be designed into certain applications.
For years the nub of the problem has been that making the incredibly tiny nanoscale holes in graphene can cause contamination in the material which detrimentally alters its operational characteristics.
However, the team of scientists at the Centre have solved that problem by encapsulating the graphene inside another two-dimensional material, hexagonal boron nitride. This is a non-conductive material that can protect graphene’s properties.
Electron beam lithography was used to create the pattern in the protective layer of boron nitride and graphene. And to give you some idea of just how complex this work is the holes have a diameter of about 20 nanometres and there are only 12 nanometres space between them. Don’t forget, one nanometre is a billionth of a metre, or put another way a human hair is approximately 80,000 nanometres wide.
So why is this breakthrough such a big deal? One of the advantages of graphene is its potential application versatility, particularly in electronics but this versatility has until now been thwarted by the difficulty of introducing bandgap which is the difference between the top of the valence band, and the bottom of the conduction band.
We know that graphene is an incredibly good conductor but without an integral bandgap, it can’t be switched off which is an essential element in semiconductor-related applications. Now though, and thanks to this breakthrough, the bandgap problem has been overcome and in addition to that, the flow of electrical current through graphene has been increased a 1000-fold.”
Read full article Graphene Technology Finally Grows Up
Source: Electropages. By Paul Whytock