A large part of this expense is the substrate on which graphene is generally produced.
By using a process of chemical vapour deposition (CVD), graphene has often been grown as a monolayer – a layer one atom thick -by exposing platinum, nickel or titanium carbide to ethylene or benzene at high temperatures. Recent production methods have lowered these costs somewhat by incorporating copper as a substrate, but even this method can still prove expensive.
Now boffins at the University of Glasgow have discovered a way to create large sheets of graphene using the same type of cheap copper used to manufacture lithium-ion batteries.
They worked out that you could deposit high-quality graphene on the surface of inexpensive copper foils often used to make the ultra-thin cathodes (negative electrodes) in lithium-ion batteries. The surface of the copper proved to be both completely smooth and a superior substrate on which to form the graphene.
Dr Dahiya, of the University of Glasgow’s School of Engineering said the commercially-available copper used in his process sells for around one dollar per square meter, compared to around $115 for a similar amount of the copper currently used in graphene production,” said.
“Our process produces high-quality graphene at low cost, taking us one step closer to creating affordable new electronic devices with a wide range of applications, from the smart cities of the future to mobile healthcare.”
The research was conducted in partnership with colleagues at Bilkent University in Turkey and results of this research were recently published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.