Graphene is a next-generation material, heralded as the future of electronics for several years now. However, the material is much more expensive to produce in large areas than silicon.
A large part of the expense comes from the substrate on which graphene is produced. The material is often grown as a one-atom thick ‘monolayer’ using chemical vapour deposition (CVD). Platinum, nickel or titanium carbide are exposed to ethylene or benzene at high temperatures.
Researchers at the University of Glasgow have found that inexpensive copper foils are viable for use as a substrate. The copper – the same type used in the cathodes of li-ion batteries – is both smooth and a superior material for the substrate. It costs around $1 per m², compared to $115 per m² for the copper currently used in production, and the graphene produced offered improved electrical and optical performance of transistors.
It is thought that the new process could lead to large-scale and low-cost production of high-quality graphene films. These could be used in devices such as rollable displays and ePaper.