Quantum detection

Physical characterisation of graphene and 2D materials

Building confidence in 2D materials and unlocking new applications

Graphene is a recently discovered carbon-based material only one atom thick. Graphene research, within the quantum area at NPL, focuses on structural and functional engineering, physics and metrology of graphene, other 2D materials and their heterostructures.

We deploy the arsenal of quantum metrology, scanning probe microscopy and non‑contacting microwave methods to support the development and application of graphene and 2D material based devices.

Graphene has the potential to surpass conventional materials in many important applications, such as super-capacitors, ultrafast analogue transistors and touchscreen displays. Metrology is called upon to underpin these developments.

Validation techniques – We use a wide suite of tools, including Raman and photoluminescence spectroscopy as well as various scanning probe microscopy techniques and microwave resonator techniques, to build a complete picture of the structural, electrical, optical and thermal properties of 2D materials and heterostructures. Reliable methods to determine the quality and physical properties of these materials are vital to their widespread inclusion in practical devices with novel functions.

Graphene-enabled standards – The quantum Hall effect is used to define the metrological standard for electrical resistance in terms of the ratio of fundamental constants of nature, Planck’s constant (h) and the square of the elementary charge (e). Graphene supports the quantum Hall effect in much more relaxed conditions, higher temperature and lower magnetic field, than conventional semiconductors. Our push-button quantum Hall resistance standards with graphene at their heart will be used in industry to create more accurate electronic components.

Sensors – The large surface area of graphene means it is very sensitive to molecules that contact its surface, which makes it ideal for use in sensors. We investigate and develop graphene-based sensors, including gas sensors for harmful pollutants such as NO2 and biosensors which could detect disease-carrying pathogens.

Some highlights of our recent research include:

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