National Physical Laboratory

Scientists develop a new method to revolutionise graphene printed electronics

A team of researchers based at The University of Manchester have found a brand new low-cost method for producing graphene printed electronics which significantly speeds up and reduces the cost of conductive graphene inks – as published in Nature Communications.

Scientists develop a new method to revolutionise graphene printed electronics

Printed electronics offer a breakthrough in the penetration of information technology into everyday life. The possibility of printing electronic circuits will further promote the spread of Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

The development of printed conductive inks for electronic applications has grown rapidly, widening applications in transistors, sensors, antennas RFID tags and wearable electronics.

Current conductive inks traditionally use metal nanoparticles for their high electrical conductivity. However, these materials can be expensive or easily oxidised, making them far from ideal for low cost IoT applications.

The team has found that using a material called 'dihydrolevogucosenone', known as 'Cyrene', is non-toxic, environmentally friendly and sustainable. It can also provide higher concentrations and conductivity of graphene ink.

Kewen Pan, lead author on the paper said: "This perhaps is a significant step towards commercialisation of printed graphene technology. I believe it would be an evolution in printed electronics industry because the material is such low cost, stable and environmental friendly."

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL), which was involved in measurements for this work, has partnered with the National Graphene Institute at The University of Manchester to provide a materials characterisation service to provide the missing link for the industrialisation of graphene and 2D materials. They have also published a joint NPL and NGI a good practice guide which aims to tackle the ambiguity surrounding how to measure graphene's characteristics.

Professor Ling Hao, an NPL scientist, said: "Materials characterisation is crucial to be able to ensure performance reproducibility and scale up for commercial applications of graphene and 2D materials. The results of this collaboration between The University of Manchester and NPL is mutually beneficial, as well as providing measurement training for PhD students in a metrology institute environment."

Graphene has the potential to create the next generation of electronics currently limited to science fiction: faster transistors, semiconductors, bendable phones and flexible wearable electronics.

Find out more about the work NPL is doing around Graphene

Last Updated: 8 Jan 2019
Created: 8 Jan 2019

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