A team of engineers from the University of Exeter’s Centre for Graphene Science have developed a new way of building entire device arrays directly on the copper substrates used for the commercial manufacture of graphene.
“Our new approach has the potential to open up the use of cheap-to-produce graphene devices for a host of important applications”
The complete and fully functional devices are built on the copper substrate using chemical vapour deposition (CVD) of carbon. The key development is that they can then be transferred to a substrate of choice, such as silicon, plastics or even textiles. This could dramatically reduce the cost of developing sensors and flexible electronics.
“The conventional way of producing devices using graphene can be time-consuming, intricate and expensive and involves many process steps including graphene growth, film transfer, lithographic patterning and metal contact deposition,” said Professor David Wright of Exeter’s Engineering department. “Our new approach is much simpler and has the very real potential to open up the use of cheap-to-produce graphene devices for a host of important applications from gas and bio-medical sensors to touch-screen displays.”
Flexible and transparent
To demonstrate the new process the team produced a flexible and completely transparent graphene-oxide based humidity sensor that would cost pennies to produce using common wafer-scale or roll-to-roll manufacturing techniques. This would be a significant advantage to companies such as Exeter-based sensor maker Dart, which works closely with the department.
“This research is just the latest step in our vision to help create a graphene-driven industrial revolution”
The humidity sensor was tested by Professor Monica Craciun (above, right) and Dr Saverio Russo from Exeter’s engineering department.
“This research is just the latest step in our vision to help create a graphene-driven industrial revolution,” said Prof Craciun. “High-quality, low cost graphene devices are an integral part of making this a reality, and our latest work is a truly significant advance that could unlock graphene’s true potential.”
The work was carried out as part of the EU-funded FP7 project CareRAMM to develop new ways of building graphene devices. The project includes IBM in Zurich and the University of Cambridge.
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