Researchers Closing In On Industrial Production of NextGen Material for Electronics, Solar Panels

Manufacturers must be able to produce large quantities of the atom-thick substance known as graphene for it to one day fulfill its promise as a key material in flexible touchscreens and solar panels.

So far, though, mass production has been an elusive goal thanks to high cost and the difficulty in making it. But scientists have recently created the largest high-quality graphene sheets yet manufactured in the United States, employing a technique that could one day help produce miles of it.

“We are trying to move graphene forward from lab bench experiments to real-world, large-scale applications,” says physical chemist Ivan Vlassiouk at Tennessee’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. “The process of graphene synthesis scaling up is very challenging, but its development is thrilling and gratifying.”

Vlassiouk and his colleagues have successfully developed a method that uses chemical vapor deposition at atmospheric pressures to produce sheets measuring 40 inches in diagonal. “Most labs in the universities prepare pieces of one to three inches in size at most,” he says.

Chemical vapor deposition, one of the simplest ways of making graphene, involves growing the sheets directly from hydrocarbon vapor on metal catalysts such as copper. Scientists had previously developed ways to synthesize large sheets of it via this method at low pressures, but these degraded the copper catalyst and involved vacuums, leading to complicated and expensive systems. Investigators have been searching for strategies that work at ambient pressures for industrial-scale production.

Read more: Researchers Closing In On Industrial Production of NextGen Material for Electronics, Solar Panels — txchnologist.com.

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