The development of graphene-based devices – which could eventually be used to detect hidden explosives at airports and deadly carbon monoxide in homes – is reported by Dr Kostya Novoselov and Professor Andre Geim in the latest issue of Nature Materials.
Three years ago, Manchester scientists discovered graphene – a one-atom-thick gauze of carbon atoms resembling chicken wire. This incredible new material has rapidly become one of the hottest topics in materials science and solid-state physics.
Now the same Manchester team has found that graphene is extremely sensitive to the presence of minute amounts of gases such as alcohol vapour or extremely toxic carbon monoxide.
They say this sensitivity was unexpected and seems to contradict to the common belief that graphene is extremely chemically inert.
The researchers have shown that gas molecules gently attach themselves to graphene without disrupting its chicken wire structure. They only add or take away electrons from graphene, which results in notable changes in its electrical conductance.
Writing in Nature Materials, researchers from the Manchester Centre for Mesoscience and Nanotechnology, say they have demonstrated that graphene-based sensors allow individual events to be registered when gas molecules attach to the surface.
Dr Novoselov, from The School of Physics and Astronomy, says this is clearly observed in changes of the electrical resistance of graphene, which occur as molecules are attaching one by one to its surface.
“This level of sensitivity is typically millions of times higher than for any other gas detector demonstrated before,” says Novoselov. “Graphene sensors are as sensitive as sensors can be in principle.”
Novoselov and Geim believe graphene-based gas detectors could be readily commercially produced using epitaxial graphene wafers, grown in many laboratories around the world and already good enough for this application.
But they stress that further research is needed to make such detectors sensitive to individual gases.
“At present you could not sniff out a flammable substance hidden in luggage because an increase in air humidity would give false readings,” says Geim. “But this is exactly the same problem that all solid-state gas detectors have encountered, and it can be successfully solved through various detection schemes including filters and analysis of a temperature response. We see no reason why the same cannot be done successfully with graphene.
“This is only the first step on the route to commercial graphene-based sensors but the road ahead is clear,” adds Geim. “Once again, graphene has proved itself to be a material with truly remarkable qualities, allowing observations that no other known material could.”
Researchers from the Institute for Microelectronics Technology in Russia and the Institute for Molecules and Materials at the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, also collaborated on the paper.
Jon Keighren | alfa
Physicists discover that lithium oxide on tokamak walls can improve plasma performance
22.05.2017 | DOE/Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory
Experts explain origins of topographic relief on Earth, Mars and Titan
22.05.2017 | City College of New York
Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.
Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...
An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...
In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.
In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...
Dental plaque and the viscous brown slime in drainpipes are two familiar examples of bacterial biofilms. Removing such bacterial depositions from surfaces is...
For the first time, scientists have succeeded in studying the strength of hydrogen bonds in a single molecule using an atomic force microscope. Researchers from the University of Basel’s Swiss Nanoscience Institute network have reported the results in the journal Science Advances.
Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe and is an integral part of almost all organic compounds. Molecules and sections of macromolecules are...
22.05.2017 | Event News
17.05.2017 | Event News
16.05.2017 | Event News
22.05.2017 | Materials Sciences
22.05.2017 | Life Sciences
22.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy