Graphene's promise as a material for new kinds of electronic devices, among other uses, has led researchers around the world to study the material in search of new applications. But one of the biggest limitations to wider use of the strong, lightweight, highly conductive material has been the hurdle of fabrication on an industrial scale.
Initial work with the carbon material, which forms an atomic-scale mesh and is just a single atom thick, has relied on the use of tiny flakes, typically obtained by quickly removing a piece of sticky tape from a block of graphite—a low-tech system that does not lend itself to manufacturing. Since then, focus has shifted to making graphene films on metal foil, but researchers have faced difficulties in transferring the graphene from the foil to useful substrates.
Now researchers at MIT and the University of Michigan have come up with a way of producing graphene, in a process that lends itself to scaling up, by making graphene directly on materials such as large sheets of glass. The process is described, in a paper published this week in the journal Scientific Reports, by a team of nine researchers led by A. John Hart of MIT. Lead authors of the paper are Dan McNerny, a former MIT postdoc who is now at Michigan, and Viswanath Balakrishnan, a former MIT postdoc who is now at the Indian Institute of Technology.