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Graphene breakthrough holds promise for super fast internet

Researchers at the Universities of Cambridge and Manchester have developed a new method for boosting the light harvesting performance of graphene – a move they claim could offer advances in high speed internet and other optical communications.

The team, which included the Nobel Prize winning scientists Professors Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov, combined graphene with tiny metallic structures which were arranged on top of it.

These plasmonic nanostructures were said to dramatically enhance the optical electric field felt by graphene and effectively concentrate light within the one atom thick carbon layer. As such, the light harvesting performance of graphene was boosted by 20 times, without sacrificing any of its speed.

Professor Andrea Ferrari, from the Cambridge Engineering Department, who led the Cambridge effort in the collaboration, said: "These results show [graphene's] great potential in the fields of photonics and optoelectronics, where the combination of its unique optical and electronic properties with plasmonic nanostructures can be fully exploited, even in the absence of a bandgap, in a variety of useful devices, such as solar cells and photodetectors."

"The technology of graphene production matures day by day, which has an immediate impact both on the type of exciting physics which we find in this material, and on the feasibility and the range of possible applications," added Professor Novoselov, from the Manchester team. "Many leading electronics companies consider graphene for the next generation of devices. This work certainly boosts graphene's chances even further."

The findings have been reported in the journal Nature Communications.

Author
Laura Hopperton

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