A roadmap for graphene

Oct 10, 2012
Grafene consists of a single layer of carbon atoms. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Wonder material graphene could not only dominate the electronic market in the near future, it could also lead to a huge range of new markets and novel applications, a landmark University of Manchester paper claims.

Writing in Nature, Nobel Prize-winner Professor Kostya Novoselov and an international team of authors has produced a 'Graphene Roadmap' which for the first time sets out what the world's thinnest, strongest and most can truly achieve.

The paper details how graphene, isolated for the first time at The University of Manchester by Professor Novoselov and colleague Professor Andre Geim in 2004, has the potential to revolutionise diverse applications from smartphones and ultrafast broadband to and .

One key area is touchscreen devices, such as Apple's , which use . Graphene's outstanding mechanical flexibility and chemical durability are far superior. Graphene touchscreen devices would prove far more long-lasting and would open a way for .

The authors estimate that the first graphene touchscreen devices could be on the market within three to five years, but will only realise its full potential in flexible electronics applications.

Rollable e-paper is another application which should be available as a prototype by 2015 – graphene's flexibility proving ideal for fold-up electronic sheets which could revolutionise electronics.

Timescales for applications vary greatly upon the quality of graphene required, the report claims. For example, the researchers estimate devices including photo-detectors, high-speed wireless communications and THz generators (for use in and security devices) would not be available until at least 2020, while anticancer drugs and graphene as a replacement for silicon is unlikely to become a reality until around 2030.

The paper also details the different ways of producing graphene – processes which have evolved hugely from the sticky tape method pioneered by the Nobel Laureates.

The paper asserts that there are three main methods for making graphene:

  • Liquid phase and thermal exfoliation – exposing graphite to a solvent which splits it into individual flakes of graphene. This method is ideal for energy applications (batteries and supercapacitors) as well as graphene paints and inks for products such as printed electronics, smart windows and electromagnetic shielding. Adding additional functionality to composite materials (extra strength, conductivity, moisture barrier) is another area such graphene can be applied.
  • Chemical Vapour Deposition – growing graphene films on copper foils, for use in flexible and transparent and photonics, among others.
  • Synthesis on Silicon Carbide – growing graphene on either the silicon or carbon faces of this material commonly used for high power electronics. This can result in very high quality graphene with excellently-formed crystals, perfect for high-frequency transistors.

Professor Novoselov said: "Graphene has a potential to revolutionise many aspects of our lives simultaneously. Some applications might appear within a few years already and some still require years of hard work.

"Different applications require different grades of graphene and those which use the lowest grade will be the first to appear, probably as soon as in a few years. Those which require the highest quality may well take decades.

"Because the developments in the last few years were truly explosive, graphene's prospects continue to rapidly improve.

"Graphene is a unique crystal in a sense that it has singlehandedly usurped quite a number of superior properties: from mechanical to electronic. This suggests that its full power will only be realised in novel applications, which are designed specifically with this material in mind, rather than when it is called to substitute other materials in existing applications.

"One thing is certain – scientists and engineers will continue looking into prospects offered by graphene and, along the way, many more ideas for new applications are likely to emerge."

His co-author Professor Volodya Falko, from Lancaster University, said: "By our paper, we aim to raise awareness of engineers, innovators, and entrepreneurs to the enormous potential of graphene to improve the existing technologies and to generate new products.

"To mention, in some countries, including Korea, Poland and the UK national funding agencies already run multi-million engineering-led research programmes aiming at commercialisation of at a large scale."

Explore further: Nanoparticles give up forensic secrets

More information: A roadmap for graphene, by K.S. Novoselov, V.I. Falko, L.Colombo, P.R. Gellert, M.G. Schwab and K.Kim, Nature, 2012.

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User comments : 21

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ScooterG
1 / 5 (6) Oct 10, 2012
"Wonder material graphene could not only dominate the electronic market in the near future, it could also lead to a huge range of new markets and novel applications"

This quote gets my vote as the understatement of the decade.
Shabs42
not rated yet Oct 11, 2012
"Wonder material graphene could not only dominate the electronic market in the near future, it could also lead to a huge range of new markets and novel applications"

This quote gets my vote as the understatement of the decade.


Hell, what more do you want them to promise other than domination of one of the largest markets in the world along with a huge range of entirely new markets?
JoeBlue
1 / 5 (4) Oct 11, 2012
What sort of surface properties does Graphene offer? What about Thermal properties? I've never looked into the stuff, so I have no clue.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Oct 11, 2012
What sort of surface properties does Graphene offer? What about Thermal properties? I've never looked into the stuff, so I have no clue.

JFGI
mkenward
1 / 5 (3) Oct 11, 2012
What is this "Grafene" stuff? (See picture.)

Yet another press release put out without granting access to the paper. There should be a boycott of this sort of thing. If it is worth a release, then it is worth granting open access, even if it costs.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Oct 11, 2012
Yet another press release put out without granting access to the paper.

There is access to the paper. If you're interested pay the few dollars and get it.

Or just email the authors of the paper. I'm sure they'll point you to some previous publications.

Or, if you ask nicely, they'll just send you the pdf. At least that's what everyone at the institutes I worked at did. Yeah, yeah: that's not in the interest of the journals - but if it's my paper I'll damn well do with the content as I please. They already got the paper from me to fill their publication with and as author you don't see a cent from the proceeds for your weeks of toil writing/revising it all - so: screw 'em.
mkenward
1 / 5 (3) Oct 11, 2012

There is access to the paper. If you're interested pay the few dollars and get it.

Or just email the authors of the paper. I'm sure they'll point you to some previous publications.


I have ways of getting access. But that is not my point.

If a university wants to tout its research to the world, then it should also make that research, and the paper it is pushing, available to the people who will read the result of those releases, articles in newspapers and on sites like this.
ScooterG
1 / 5 (5) Oct 11, 2012

Hell, what more do you want them to promise other than domination of one of the largest markets in the world along with a huge range of entirely new markets?


"huge range" This may be the second-most understatement of the year :)

LOL...it will be exciting to witness the uses they will find for this stuff.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Oct 12, 2012
If a university wants to tout its research to the world, then it should also make that research, and the paper it is pushing, available to the people

The university is not the journal. Journals are released by publishing companies (Springer, Elsevier, etc. ). The university does not see a cent from any sales of the journal.

Publishers make you sign a contract that you will not hand out the paper for free, republish it, or put it up on your webpage (in effect the paper belongs to the journal after you have handed it over).

They do this because:
- They are profit oriented buinesses
- They handle, apart from the material cost of the publication, the organizational details (e.g. the entire peer review process)

And when all is said and done: The public isn't smart enough to do anything with it even if it had free access. Seriously. Unless you ACTIVELY work in the field as a researcher in a top group such publications are wasted on you.
mkenward
1 / 5 (4) Oct 12, 2012
And when all is said and done: The public isn't smart enough to do anything with it even if it had free access. Seriously. Unless you ACTIVELY work in the field as a researcher in a top group such publications are wasted on you.

Ah, you must be a scientist. This one is a gem that deserves to be set in stone and pasted all over the internet. I will certainly be using it in the circles I move in. Thank you.

I thought that this Neanderthal attitude had died, but there are clearly some old school "we know best" researchers out there.

Not all press releases come from universities. Journals also release them, and they often do not allow access either.

And universities can pay for access, where required.

Some do it.

Thank you for making my day.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (2) Oct 12, 2012
Ah, you must be a scientist. This one is a gem that deserves to be set in stone and pasted all over the internet.
Yes I am (or more precisely: was) and I stand by it. This isn't hubris or elitism or 'we know best'. This is cold, hard fact.
Even I don't understand all the papers published in my specialty. And I have training and long experience in reading such papers.

And you are talking about accessing papers that you have not even basic training in - as if that would give you some useful insight.

I'm really sorry if I have to burst your bubble on this, but science isn't like flipping burgers where anyone with a passing interest can jump right in and make meaningful contributions.

It's more like racing. Giving you access to the best formula 1 car won't allow you to win races.

Really. Science takes years (up to a decade) of training until you can make use of scientific papers in a meaningful way.
mkenward
1 / 5 (4) Oct 12, 2012
And you are talking about accessing papers that you have not even basic training in - as if that would give you some useful insight.


There you go again, another wild assumption. I have a physics degree and have spent many years following materials research, thanks to my ability to gain access to people at the highest levels.

Fortunately, younger scientists are less arrogant and all knowing in their attitudes to the "great unwashed".

By the way, did you notice the title of this paper? Not, methinks, something written to be understood by only three people.

PS Apologies to everyone else for inflicting this on you, but I consider it important to slap down arrogant dismissal of the rest of the population.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Oct 12, 2012
I have a physics degree and have spent many years following materials research

Great. Then, since it's not idle interest you will have no problem buying the paper and reimbursing the publishers for their trouble of publishing it and passing it through peer review, right?

You're really barking up the wrong tree here: you're faulting the universities for the practice of publishers to charge for the papers they publish in their journals.
It's like downloading music for free. Yes, we all want to do it - but that means someone has to pay for you to get a freebie. Because music is NOT something that happens for free.

I consider it important to slap down arrogant dismissal

And I consider it important to point out that you have no clue as to what you are talking about.
Email the authors. I will guarantee you that they will be happy to answer any questions you may have. Scientists are a nice bunch when it comes to their work. But physorg has to use the sources it finds.
antialias_physorg
not rated yet Oct 12, 2012
Now one may say: why don't the universities put this stuff on their servers for download as a matter of course?

1) That wouldn't be peer reviewed material
2) The data doesn't lie around in easily accessible form.

It takes major effort to write a paper (this can mean up to a month of not doing ANYTHING besides writing, revising, compiling the data, fixing bugs, etc. etc.) If the paper is a collaboration - which it oftentimes is - then there are several passes back and forth.

All of this takes TIME. And time is in incredibly short supply in research. Grants are very limited. So unless there's actually a journal paper or a conference with an impact factor in the offering it's an absolute waste of time (and money) to make a layman accessible version for the occasional guy with a passing interest.
antialias_physorg
5 / 5 (1) Oct 12, 2012
I'm just really sick and tired of people not willing to put in the two cents worth of effort to understand that science isn't about PR. It's about science.
It's about doing scientific work. And anything that detracts from that is a waste of time and money (and there's already enough people clamoring about 'waste of money' without every scientist wasting half his working day compiling a 'layman-friendly' precis of his work )
mkenward
1 / 5 (3) Oct 12, 2012
LOL...it will be exciting to witness the uses they will find for this stuff.

Ever since graphene became all the buzz, certainly before it got Nobeled, I have amassed papers on the stuff along with articles and claims about what it can do.

Going by this mountain of material – 1444 papers, including sonme from C60 days, and nearly as many web pages at last count – the number of uses is limitless. Indeed, it might be easier to find things that it cannot, in theory at least, do.

Then again, I remember similar claims about C60.
agarcia59
not rated yet Oct 14, 2012
Then again, I remember similar claims about C60.


I'd like to say the success of a material is dependent on the people who are working on the material and the innovation they can put into it. Such as Charles Hall & aluminum. Although, that may just naive of me to think.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (3) Oct 14, 2012
The scientific community deals with basic research so it uses it's own criterions of usefulness. The Nobel price rewards the scientists by the their usefulness for another scientists, not by their usefulness for the rest of human civilization. It goes against spirit of Nobel, who was solely practical man, but this is simply the way, in which Nobel price is used from its very beginning. The graphene finding opened way for myriads of new publications, but it will not be used, until it would represent an economical, not just theoretical contribution for consumer microelectronics. After all, the technology evolves too and the properties of for example strained silicone have similar properties like the graphene (high carrier mobility), whereas their compatibility with existing technologies remains way higher. So I don't expect the integration of graphene into consumer grade electronics soon, if ever.
mkenward
1 / 5 (3) Oct 14, 2012
So I don't expect the integration of graphene into consumer grade electronics soon, if ever.


If you read the Review – as one of the Nature folk pointed out to me, it isn't a "paper", contrary to most of the coverage – you will see that the authors address this issue. Physorg couldn't hope to cover all the territory, so it is no surprise that they didn't find room for the authors' comment that graphene's "full power will only be realized in novel applications, which are designed specifically with this material in mind, rather than when it is used to replace other materials in existing applications".

The authors' view is that this is likely to happen in such "new technologies as printable and flexible electronics, flexible solar cells and supercapacitors".

The more I read this review, the more I believe that it should have as wide an audience as possible You don't need a physics degree to understand it.
mkenward
1 / 5 (3) Oct 14, 2012
What sort of surface properties does Graphene offer? What about Thermal properties? I've never looked into the stuff, so I have no clue.


The review states:

A large number of its material parameters—such as mechanical
stiffness, strength and elasticity, very high electrical and thermal conductivity, and many others—are supreme.


That is just one of a number of references to thermal properties.

They don't make any specific comparisons with diamond, the wonder material on that front. I will leave that to the professional physicists to explain for us mere mortals who are too stupid to understand the science.

PS When will someone correct the "grafene" howler, or is this another outbreak of the American "sulfur" disease?
Justsayin
1 / 5 (3) Nov 23, 2012
I think this same headline has been written every year since the discover of graphene.