Graphene production could scale up with this new technique out of MIT

Quercus Trust's Latest Energy Storage Play: Graphene Energy

It has only been a decade since researchers successfully isolated graphene for the first time, but scientists are already developing increasingly sophisticated ways to make it. The latest effort comes out of MIT, where a team developed a way to work around one of the trickier aspects of graphene manufacturing.

Graphene is generally made in a high-temperature oven, where it pulls out of the air and deposits on a sheet of metal like copper or nickel.

“To make it useful, you have to get it off the metal and onto a substrate, such as a silicon wafer or a polymer sheet, or something larger like a sheet of glass,” MIT team lead A. John Hart said in a release. “But the process of transferring it has become much more frustrating than the process of growing the graphene itself, and can damage and contaminate the graphene.”

A visual representation of how graphene is grown and then removed. Photo courtesy of MIT.

A visual representation of how graphene is grown and then removed. Photo courtesy of MIT.

The team got around the need to transfer the graphene by making a sort of metal sandwich; instead of just growing the graphene on one side of a sheet of nickel, they grew it on both sides. The sandwich sat on a sheet of glass, so when the top layer of graphene and nickel were peeled away, it left a sheet of graphene on the glass. The combo is then ready to be integrated into a TV or mobile device screen.

The process isn’t just limited to glass. Graphene could also be grown on a flexible material that works well in solar cells or directly on silicon wafers.

“We’ve shown this mechanism can work. Now it’s a matter of improving the attributes needed to produce a high-performance graphene coating,” Hart added in the release.

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