Published: 04 June 2015

‘Magic flying carpet’ of graphene paves way for future electronics

New research in the ATI could enable the development of fast, energy-efficient circuits not possible using conventional graphene.

A paper published in Nature’s ‘Scientific Reports’ on 1 June highlights research undertaken by an international team from Surrey’s Advanced Technology Institute (ATI), National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and the Institute of Electronic Materials Technology in Poland. This research demonstrates that using a new technique, a ‘carpet’ of graphene atoms can be separated from its supporting layer, which has unique charging properties, paving the way for future high-speed electronics.

The strongest material known to man, graphene is an excellent conductor, with its electrons achieving velocities close to the speed of light, and is extremely sensitive due to its high surface-to-volume ratio. In order to utilise graphene’s exceptional properties, however, it is necessary to produce large-scale graphene of excellent quality.

While one solution is to grow graphene on a substrate, bonds between graphene and the substrate lead to degradation of the mobility of the electrons. The latest research represents a breakthrough in this effort by – for the first time – enabling the graphene layer to be ‘lifted’ from the substrate by forcing hydrogen molecules between the two layers.

Professor Ravi Silva, Director of the ATI and a co-author of the research paper, said, “By forming a carpet of graphene, we are able to improve and stabilise the electronic properties, increasing the mobility of charge carriers by more than three times. This research brings graphene a step closer to its incorporation in high-speed electronics.”

Lead author of the project Dr Olga Kazakova of NPL commented, “This type of research can only happen with support from governments. At NPL we are supported by the UK government and EU Flagship programmes on graphene. At Surrey, funding for the work has come in the form of an EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council) grant to set up a CVD Graphene Growth Centre and studentship funding. We look forward to reporting high quality devices from the materials we are producing in the near future’.

The paper, ‘Carrier type inversion in quasi-free standing graphene: studies of local electronic and structural properties’ was published in Nature’s ‘Scientific Reports’ on 1 June.


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