It’s great stuff, graphene – sheets of carbon a single atom thick with the potential to create super-efficient transistors that could revolutionise electronics.
But unfortunately, it’s very hard to come by. Current production methods are expensive – indeed, until a couple of years ago, graphene was one of the most expensive substances on earth. Even now, production is highly inefficient, producing limited amounts of questionable quality.
But a European team now reckons it has taken a huge step towards viable commercial production.
Victor Aristov of the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials says that it’s a “very simple procedure for making graphene on the cheap.”
His team has grown high-quality graphene on the surface of commercially available silicon carbide wafers to produce material with excellent electronic properties, he says.
It had been thought that the substrate they used, cubic 3C-SiC, or β-SiC, wouldn’t be suitable because of its cubic lattice structure.
“Contrary to common belief, we succeeded in growing high-quality graphene on cubic β-SiC and found that the interaction with the substrate is almost negligible, rendering this system a perfect candidate for future graphene-based electronics,” says the team in its report.
This is a big step forward, as cubic β-SiC is widely grown commercially.
The development “represents a huge step toward technological application of this material, as the synthesis is compatible with industrial mass production,” says Aristov.
The study appears in Nano Letters.