Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Penn Physicists Develop Scalable Method for Making Graphene

03.03.2011
New research from the University of Pennsylvania demonstrates a more consistent and cost-effective method for making graphene, the atomic-scale material that has promising applications in a variety of fields, and was the subject of the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics.

As explained in a recently published study, a Penn research team was able to create high-quality graphene that is just a single atom thick over 95% of its area, using readily available materials and manufacturing processes that can be scaled up to industrial levels.

“I’m aware of reports of about 90%, so this research is pushing it closer to the ultimate goal, which is 100%,” said the study’s principal investigator, A.T. Charlie Johnson, professor of physics. “We have a vision of a fully industrial process.”

Other team members on the project included postdoctoral fellows Zhengtang Luo and Brett Goldsmith, graduate students Ye Lu and Luke Somers and undergraduate students Daniel Singer and Matthew Berck, all of Penn’s Department of Physics and Astronomy in the School of Arts and Sciences.

The group’s findings were published on Feb. 10 in the journal Chemistry of Materials.

Graphene is a chicken-wire-like lattice of carbon atoms arranged in thin sheets a single atomic layer thick. Its unique physical properties, including unbeatable electrical conductivity, could lead to major advances in solar power, energy storage, computer memory and a host of other technologies. But complicated manufacturing processes and often-unpredictable results currently hamper graphene’s widespread adoption.

Producing graphene at industrial scales isn’t inhibited by the high cost or rarity of natural resources – a small amount of graphene is likely made every time a pencil is used – but rather the ability to make meaningful quantities with consistent thinness.

One of the more promising manufacturing techniques is CVD, or chemical vapor deposition, which involves blowing methane over thin sheets of metal. The carbon atoms in methane form a thin film of graphene on the metal sheets, but the process must be done in a near vacuum to prevent multiple layers of carbon from accumulating into unusable clumps.

The Penn team’s research shows that single-layer-thick graphene can be reliably produced at normal pressures if the metal sheets are smooth enough.

“The fact that this is done at atmospheric pressure makes it possible to produce graphene at a lower cost and in a more flexible way,” Luo, the study’s lead author, said.

Whereas other methods involved meticulously preparing custom copper sheets in a costly process, Johnson’s group used commercially available copper foil in their experiment.

“You could practically buy it at the hardware store,” Johnson said.

Other methods make expensive custom copper sheets in an effort to get them as smooth as possible; defects in the surface cause the graphene to accumulate in unpredictable ways. Instead, Johnson’s group “electropolished” their copper foil, a common industrial technique used in finishing silverware and surgical tools. The polished foil was smooth enough to produce single-layer graphene over 95% of its surface area.

Working with commercially available materials and chemical processes that are already widely used in manufacturing could lower the bar for commercial applications.

“The overall production system is simpler, less expensive, and more flexible” Luo said.

The most important simplification may be the ability to create graphene at ambient pressures, as it would take some potentially costly steps out of future graphene assembly lines.

“If you need to work in high vacuum, you need to worry about getting it into and out of a vacuum chamber without having a leak,” Johnson said. “If you’re working at atmospheric pressure, you can imagine electropolishing the copper, depositing the graphene onto it and then moving it along a conveyor belt to another process in the factory.”

This research was supported by Penn’s Nano/Bio Interface Center through the National Science Foundation.

Evan Lerner | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.upenn.edu

More articles from Materials Sciences:

nachricht Breakthrough in blending metals
24.09.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

nachricht To improve auto coatings, new tests do more than scratch the surface
21.09.2018 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

All articles from Materials Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists present new observations to understand the phase transition in quantum chromodynamics

The building blocks of matter in our universe were formed in the first 10 microseconds of its existence, according to the currently accepted scientific picture. After the Big Bang about 13.7 billion years ago, matter consisted mainly of quarks and gluons, two types of elementary particles whose interactions are governed by quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of strong interaction. In the early universe, these particles moved (nearly) freely in a quark-gluon plasma.

This is a joint press release of University Muenster and Heidelberg as well as the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt.

Then, in a phase transition, they combined and formed hadrons, among them the building blocks of atomic nuclei, protons and neutrons. In the current issue of...

Im Focus: Patented nanostructure for solar cells: Rough optics, smooth surface

Thin-film solar cells made of crystalline silicon are inexpensive and achieve efficiencies of a good 14 percent. However, they could do even better if their shiny surfaces reflected less light. A team led by Prof. Christiane Becker from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) has now patented a sophisticated new solution to this problem.

"It is not enough simply to bring more light into the cell," says Christiane Becker. Such surface structures can even ultimately reduce the efficiency by...

Im Focus: New soft coral species discovered in Panama

A study in the journal Bulletin of Marine Science describes a new, blood-red species of octocoral found in Panama. The species in the genus Thesea was discovered in the threatened low-light reef environment on Hannibal Bank, 60 kilometers off mainland Pacific Panama, by researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI) and the Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR) at the University of Costa Rica.

Scientists established the new species, Thesea dalioi, by comparing its physical traits, such as branch thickness and the bright red colony color, with the...

Im Focus: New devices based on rust could reduce excess heat in computers

Physicists explore long-distance information transmission in antiferromagnetic iron oxide

Scientists have succeeded in observing the first long-distance transfer of information in a magnetic group of materials known as antiferromagnets.

Im Focus: Finding Nemo's genes

An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome

An international team of researchers has mapped Nemo's genome, providing the research community with an invaluable resource to decode the response of fish to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

"Boston calling": TU Berlin and the Weizenbaum Institute organize a conference in USA

21.09.2018 | Event News

One of the world’s most prominent strategic forums for global health held in Berlin in October 2018

03.09.2018 | Event News

4th Intelligent Materials - European Symposium on Intelligent Materials

27.08.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Matter falling into a black hole at 30 percent of the speed of light

24.09.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

NASA balloon mission captures electric blue clouds

24.09.2018 | Earth Sciences

New way to target advanced breast cancers

24.09.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>