National Physical Laboratory

Self-supporting graphene films and their applications

Graphene is the thinnest and strongest material known. As a result it has many potential applications in the sensing area.

Self-supporting graphene films and their applications

Top and bottom left: Averaged Raman spectra of freestanding graphene and graphene bonded to SiO2 respectively. Top right and bottom right: Raman map of 2D peak intensity and SEM image respectively, showing graphene drums (green circles), broken drums (light blue circles). Black areas in the Raman map show where there is no graphene signal and the SiO2 is exposed.

Nano-electromechanical systems (NEMS) resonators is one of these areas which has potential impact across an enormous range of applications, from single molecule sensors through photon detection to measurement of thermal properties of nanocircuits. An invited paper from NPL in IET journal Circuits Device and Systems (Volume 9, 2015, pp 420-427 DOI:10.1049/iet-cds.2015.0149) shows how single layer graphene (only 1 atom thick) can be stretched across a support structure to provide a tiny drum, just a few millionths of a metre across. Such a drum will vibrate at a well-defined frequency when excited. Because it is so light, a single layer graphene drum will change this frequency when it is perturbed in some way, forr example by the attachment of a single molecule, or even the impact of a single photon of light. As frequency changes may be very accurately measured, this allows the graphene drum to act as an ultra-sensitive weighing machine, distinguishing different molecules by their different masses, and thus their different frequencies. Sensors of this type can be expected to appear widely in applications across health, chemistry and environmental studies.

The paper was a joint effort between NPL, Imperial College, Brunel University, Fudan University (China) and Wroclaw University of Technology (Poland).

Find out more at the IET Digital Library

For further details, please contact: Ling Hao

Last Updated: 5 Aug 2016
Created: 9 Jun 2016

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