Contact: Dr. Simon Thomas & Dr. Ivor Guiney, Materials Science & Metallurgy
Despite the excitement that surrounded the initial discovery of graphene, its potential has not yet been converted into actual products. There are many reasons for this, including the lack of a technique that can produce uncontaminated graphene in large enough pieces, and the high cost of the existing production methods.
Dr. Thomas and Dr. Guiney have used a new approach to creating two-dimensional carbon sheets, which aims to solve the existing problems in the field. Their method allows low-cost production of much larger wafers of material than previously. The size of the wafers are potentially up to 12” diameter, which is the most widely-used size of wafer used in electronics processing lines today. The new process also involves less manual handling (and therefore less risk of contamination), and the ability to deposit the material on a range of different substrates depending on the target application area.
One of the many benefits of graphene wafers is that they can be used as highly efficient thermal dissipation layers within semiconductor devices, including LEDs, power devices and solar cells. In addition the graphene can be engineered to contain nanopores, allowing it to act directly as a water filter which captures all impurities and only allows the pure water molecules through.
The challenge for the i-Team is to investigate the wide range of potential applications for this new form of graphene-like carbon, and identify those markets which have the greatest need for the particular benefits which it can offer.