Researchers at the University of Glasgow in partnership with Bilkent University in Turkey have found a way to produce large sheets of graphene using the same cheap type of copper used to manufacture lithium-ion batteries.
Widespread industrial adoption of graphene has so far been limited by the expense of producing it, but Dr Ravinder Dahiya of the University of Glasgow’s School of Engineering has found a production method around 100 times cheaper than existing methods.
“The commercially-available copper we used in our process retails for around one dollar per square metre, compared to around $115 for a similar amount of the copper currently used in graphene production,” said Dahiya.
“This more expensive form of copper often required preparation before it can be used, adding further to the cost of the process. Our process produces high-quality graphene at low cost, taking us one step closer to creating affordable new electronic devices with a wide range of applications, from the smart cities of the future to mobile healthcare.”
The process is similar to the existing chemical vapour deposition method, but creates a film of graphene across the surface of the smooth copper. He said the copper provides an excellent bed for the graphene to form on, and the graphene they produced offered a stark improvement in the electrical and optical performance of transistors which they made compared to similar materials produced from the older process.
Dahiya said much of his other research is in the field of synthetic skin.
“Graphene could help provide an ultraflexible, conductive surface which could provide people with prosthetics capable of providing sensation in a way that is impossible for even the most advanced prosthetics today,” he said.
“It’s a very exciting discovery and we’re keen to continue our research.”
Graphene has been hailed as a wonder material because it is flexible, strong and capable of efficiently conducting heat and electricity.