Graphene, the two-dimensional powerhouse, packs extreme durability, electrical conductivity, and transparency into a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon. Despite being heralded as a breakthrough “wonder material,” graphene has been slow to leap into commercial and industrial products and processes.
Now, scientists have developed a simple and powerful method for creating resilient, customized, and high-performing graphene: layering it on top of common glass. This scalable and inexpensive process helps pave the way for a new class of microelectronic and optoelectronic devices—everything from efficient solar cells to touch screens.
“We believe that this work could significantly advance the development of truly scalable graphene technologies.”
— Brookhaven Lab and Stony Brook University physicist Matthew Eisaman
The collaboration—led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, Stony Brook University (SBU), and the Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at SUNY Polytechnic Institute—published their results February 12, 2016, in the journal Scientific Reports.
“We believe that this work could significantly advance the development of truly scalable graphene technologies,” said study coauthor Matthew Eisaman, a physicist at Brookhaven Lab and professor at SBU.
The scientists built the proof-of-concept graphene devices on substrates made of soda-lime glass—the most common glass found in windows, bottles, and many other products. In an unexpected twist, the sodium atoms in the glass had a powerful effect on the electronic properties of the graphene.
“The sodium inside the soda-lime glass creates high electron density in the graphene, which is essential to many processes and has been challenging to achieve,” said coauthor Nanditha Dissanayake of Voxtel, Inc., but formerly of Brookhaven Lab. “We actually discovered this efficient and robust solution during the pursuit of something a bit more complex. Such surprises are part of the beauty of science.”
Crucially, the effect remained strong even when the devices were exposed to air for several weeks—a clear improvement over competing techniques.
Learn more: Graphene Leans on Glass to Advance Electronics
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