A team of researchers at Northwestern Engineering has come up with a new way of producing graphene, which could eventually lead to printable graphene ink.
One of the methods used to produce graphene involves exfoliating graphite through oxidation or the use of various solvents. However, the techniques tend to interfere with the conductive properties of graphene, greatly diminishing its potential.
The Northwestern graphene team took up the challenge and eventually came up with a conductivity preserving production method that works at room temperature, which should help keep production costs down. In addition, they used cheap and readily available solvents such as ethanol and ethyl cellulose. The latter can even be used as a food additive, which means it is pretty clean and safe, reports Clean Technica.
In the end they managed to produce a powder of high concentration graphene flakes and they can transform their product into a printable ink, simply by adding another solvent.
Printable graphene circuits could drastically reduce production costs, as they could use existing printers rather than develop proprietary manufacturing techniques. This means graphene-based circuits and solar cells could become very cheap, very fast.