Scientists develop low cost method to produce graphene printed electronics

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A team of scientists at the University of Manchester have found a low cost method for producing graphene printed electronics, which could significantly speed up and reduce the cost of conductive graphene inks.

Printed electronics are seen as offering a breakthrough in the penetration of information technology into many different aspects of life, and the printing of electronic circuits will further promote the spread of Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

The development of printed conductive inks for electronic applications has grown rapidly, widening applications in transistors, sensors, antennas RFID tags and wearable electronics.

Current conductive inks traditionally use metal nanoparticles for their high electrical conductivity - these are, however, both expensive or easily oxidised.

­­The team at Manchester have found that using a material called dihydrolevogucosenone known as Cyrene is not only non-toxic but is environmentally- friendly and sustainable but can also provide higher concentrations and conductivity of graphene ink.

According to Professor Zhiurn Hu: “This work demonstrates that printed graphene technology can be low cost, sustainable, and environmentally friendly for ubiquitous wireless connectivity in IoT era as well as provide RF energy harvesting for low power electronics”.

Professor Sir Kostya Novoselov said: “Development of production methods relevant to the end-user in terms of their flexibility, cost and compatibility with existing technologies are extremely important. This work will ensure that implementation of graphene into day-to-day products and technologies will be even faster”.

The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) were involved in measurements for this work, AND have partnered with the National Graphene Institute at The University of Manchester to provide a material characterisation service to provide the missing link for the industrialisation of graphene and 2D materials.

Professor Ling Hao said: “Materials characterisation is crucial to be able to ensure performance reproducibility and scale up for commercial applications of graphene and 2D materials. The results of this collaboration between the University and NPL is mutually beneficial, as well as providing measurement training for PhD students in a metrology institute environment.”

Graphene has the potential to create the next generation of electronics currently limited to science fiction: faster transistors, semiconductors, bendable phones and flexible wearable electronics.