Shining light on graphene sensors

Shining light on graphene sensors
A light-sensitive graphene/polymer heterostructure.

National Physical Laboratory, together with an international team of scientists, have published research showing how light can be used to control graphene's electrical properties. This advance is an important step towards developing highly sensitive graphene-based electronic devices.

Graphene is an extraordinary two-dimensional material made of a single atomic layer of carbon atoms. It is the thinnest material known to man, and yet is one of the strongest ever tested.

It has unique properties which make it a very exciting material for a huge range of applications from high-speed electronics and , to super-sensors capable of detecting single molecules of toxic gases.

It is able to act as a sensor because its entire structure is exposed to its surroundings, and it reacts to any molecules that touch its surface. This reaction causes graphene's electrical properties to alter, i.e. it senses the molecules' presence.

In their paper published in the Journal of Advanced Materials, the team show that when is coated with light-sensitive polymers its unique can be precisely controlled and therefore exploited.

The polymers also protect graphene from contamination.

Light-modified graphene chips have already been used at NPL in ultra-precision experiments to measure the quantum of the electrical resistance.

In the future similar polymers could be used to effectively 'translate' information from their surroundings and influence how graphene behaves. This effect could be exploited to develop robust reliable sensors for smoke, poisonous gases, or any targeted molecule.


Explore further

Light-speed nanotech: Controlling the nature of graphene

More information: Read paper: 'Non-volatile Photo-Chemical Gating of an Epitaxial Graphene-Polymer Heterostructure' in the Journal of Advanced Materials. onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10 … a.201003993/abstract
Provided by National Physical Laboratory
Citation: Shining light on graphene sensors (2011, January 10) retrieved 15 September 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2011-01-graphene-sensors.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
0 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Jan 10, 2011
How large can a graphene layer be made? Will it be a future material in for example the automotive industry and places other than micro electronics?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more