Graphene offers the potential to transform the way we design computer chips and touch screens, but it’s still in a developmental stage and issues like scaling still need to be figured out.
Today, manufacturers like Grolltex (Graphene Rolling Technologies), located in San Diego, California are using advanced materials and equipment to create products based in single layer, CVD graphene sheets of the highest quality. Using patented transfer and processing methods, they are able to produce single layer graphene at a surprisingly reduced price.
These breakthroughs in making cost-effective graphene sheets are a promising sign of things to come. We’re talking, for instance, about things like cheaper optical chips because research suggests that these atom-thick sheets of carbon will play a significant role in devices like photodetectors that convert optical signals into electrical ones.
What is Graphene?
Graphene is a material comprised of a hexagonal lattice of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb like structure. It’s very, very thin– only one atom-thick. Despite its thin structure, it can absorb 2.3% of light, and this means that it’s visible to the naked eye.
Professors Andre Geimand and Kostya Novoselov are credited with its usability in material science. They didn’t actually discover it. Scientists already knew that 2D crystal graphene only one atom thick existed. What they didn’t know was how to extract it out of graphite. However, in 2004, the two University of Manchester professors figured out how to do it. It might sound like science-fiction to talk about a two dimensional material can exist in a three-dimensional world. However, graphene is considered to have the properties of a two-dimensional crystal because of its extended length and width. It’s height is zero.
Here are three promising applications of graphene:
- High responsivity: According to a Nature Photonics article, Chip-integrated ultrafast graphene photodetector with high responsivity, “Graphene-based photodetectors have attracted strong interest for their exceptional physical properties, which include an ultrafast response, across a broad spectrum, a strong electron–electron interaction and photocarrier multiplication.” Scientists are now working on resolving its weak optical absorption which is limiting its photoresponsivity. Since the integrated optoelectronic computer chips will convert both optical electrical and electrical signals, the implications are huge.
It means that light, not electricity, will move the data inside and between computer chips, which will immediately resolve some problems because it will significantly reduce power consumption as well as cut down on heat production. As a result of these unusual properties, chips will increase their capacity to compute. In fact, no other known material can compete with graphene when it comes to the possibility of making optoelectronic devices simpler in design. The new quest in material science now is to find a way to deposit layers of graphene. Once this is efficiently achieved, it will be simpler and less expensive to make optoelectronic chips.
- Faster equipment: What do you need to make ultra-fast detectors and modulators? High mobility. What else? An ultrahigh electron velocity. Graphene admirably fulfills both these conditions.
- Move data more efficiently: Graphene has some qualities that will make it easier to move data around far more efficiently. For one thing, compared to other materials, it’s much more responsive to a broader range of light frequencies. Consequently optoelectronic chips that use graphene will be able to use better broadband optical signals.
There are many potential applications of graphene, and here are a few examples:
- · It could be used as a display screen because of its lightweight, flexible, thin, and durable properties.
- · It could be used for electric and photonics circuits.
- · It could be used for solar cells.
- · It could be used to enhance the use of chemical medical, and industrial processes.
A New Wonder Material
Like the thinnest computer keyboard in the world unveiled by Cambridge Silicon Radio, graphene inspires a sense of awe and wonder. It’s not hype to talk about graphene as a wonder material when discussing a material to make semi-transparent electronics. There are many reasons to suggest that it’s fully deserving of such lavish praise. Graphene has a lot going for it. First, it’s flexible and lightweight. Second, it happens to be the strongest material ever known. Like a diamond, graphene’s carbon atoms are electrically attracted to each other in a powerful way. By comparison, the atomic bonds in other materials are hundreds of times weaker. And third, graphene is unbelievably electrically conductive.