Unbreakable phone screens, long-lasting batteries, and wearable electronics – these aren’t just products of science fiction. These are items that are being developed todayusing a carbon-based material called graphene.
In this article, you’ll learn more about the material’s manufacturing process and its potential applications in technology, aerospace, and energy.
The Wonder Material
Graphene is a 2-dimensional carbon allotrope that was first isolated from graphite in 2004. It’s known for its high transparency, flexibility, and thermal conductivity.Due to its unique properties, it’s being used in the production of next-generation electronics.
CVD Growth of Graphene
When graphene was first produced, scientists took graphite and scrubbed it thin until only one layer remained. This process, called mechanical exfoliation, remains one of the ways manufacturers produce the material today.
But, if people want to usethe carbon allotrope for commercial applications, it needs to be produced in mass quantities. One way to do this is through a process called chemical vapor deposition (CVD).
During graphene CVD, a reaction occurs between a substrate (like copper or gold) and the carbon substance, bonding them together. The Cu or Au serves as support, making the material stable. While this is a complex process, it can be done quickly and on a large scale.
What’s Next for the Carbon-Based Material?
Graphene has many potential applications, including the following:
- Powerful batteries – By introducing the carbon allotrope to lithium-ion and taking advantage of the material’s conductivity, manufacturers can produce light and durable cellsthat can store plenty of energy.
- Cool PCs – Microprocessors can heat up due to heavy usage. But, when coated with a layer of the carbon allotrope, their temperatures can lower to 55°F. This can cut the costs required to keep data centers cool.
- Durabletouchscreens – Currently, manufacturers use indium-tin-oxide (ITO) to produce touch panels and display devices. But, this material is brittle and chemically unstable. By comparison, graphene-based electrodes are superior in terms of stability, flexibility, and conductivity. This’ll enable people to make sturdier touchscreens and wearable technology.
- Solar power – Using the carbon material with a compound called molybdenum disulfide can produce solar cells that are stronger than the thinnest ones currently available.
- Aerospace – Graphene will enable manufacturers to create strong yet lightweight components that can cut the total mass of the aircraft and lower fuel costs.
As researchers develop more reliable and cost-effective ways to do graphene CVD, you’ll see the carbon allotrope being used more widely. Because of the material’s extreme potential, many of the world’s largest companies are currently investing in projects involving its use.