National Physical Laboratory

Bridging the 'valley of death' for graphene

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) carries out multi-disciplinary research into graphene and is hosting a Graphene Conference on 15-16 October 2012 that will focus on how best to translate the knowledge gained in science laboratories across the world to commercial applications.

A model of a single sheet of graphene (image courtesy of iStockphoto)
A model of a single sheet of graphene (image
courtesy of iStockphoto)

Graphene is an incredibly thin material, only one carbon atom thick, and has potential commercial applications ranging from ultrafast analogue transistors to touch-screen displays. Although there has been a range of recent breakthroughs in understanding the properties of this new material, more needs to be done to accelerate the development of graphene-based technologies and enable it to reach its revolutionary potential.

The preliminary list of invited speakers at the Graphene Conference includes Prof Dr Klaus von Klitzing, from the Max Planck Institute of Solid State Research in Germany, who will deliver the keynote speech on 'Current distribution in Two-dimensional Electron Systems under QHE Condition'. Von Klitzing won the 1985 Nobel Prize in Physics for his discovery of the quantised quantum Hall effect (QHE) and showed that the effect has fundamental implications for physics. This discovery opened up a new research field in which NPL is very active, publishing research in 2011 that confirmed the potential of graphene itself for making the most precise measurements of the quantum Hall effect ever.

Bridging the translational gap, sometimes referred to as the 'valley of death', between research and business is a major challenge, but one that organisations like NPL are well positioned to meet. At one extreme we work with over 75 universities worldwide and other National Measurement Institutes to ensure the highest calibre science. At the other we provide consultancy and services to over 2000 companies.

Graphene was only discovered in 2004 and further work is still needed to build a measurement infrastructure to support its technological applications. Recently published NPL research, in collaboration with Imperial College London, has demonstrated a possible quality assurance method by sensitively probing the conductivity of graphene using microwave resonance.

This technique managed to identify water trapped between individual layers of graphene, in a five-layer sample, and demonstrated that the water could be driven out by gently heating the material. This could prove to be an important tool as the presence of water affects the conductivity of the graphene, potentially leading to failures if incorporated into electronic products such as chips or sensors.

Read the full paper: Microwave surface impedance measurements on reduced graphene oxide

It is this type of practical impact that is the hallmark of NPL's scientific research and we hope to continue to support new technologies like graphene in the future, from research to applications.

Graphene Conference: From Research to Applications

ConceptGraphene is a collaborative project funded by the European Union within the 7th Framework Programme.

For more information, please contact Lekshmi Joseph

Last Updated: 12 Feb 2013
Created: 11 Sep 2012