The extraordinary material graphene, the strongest metal in the world which has found its uses in everything from biological engineering to optical electronics, can now be produced much cheaper than before.
A hundred times cheaper, to be exact.
According to a report by Gizmag, researchers at the University of Glasgow have discovered a way to create large sheets of graphene using the same type of cheap copper used to manufacture lithium-ion batteries.
So far, the high-quality material has proved more expensive than standard electronic substrates such as silicon.
So what did they do exactly? Here's Gizmag's explanation of the process:
„The researchers came up with the idea of depositing high-quality graphene on the surface of inexpensive copper foils often used to make the ultra-thin cathodes (negative electrodes) in lithium-ion batteries. As it turns out, the surface of the copper proved to be both completely smooth and a superior substrate on which to form the graphene.“
This could, in fact, mean much cheaper electronic devices in the future.
Dr Dahiya, of the University of Glasgow's School of Engineering said: "Our process produces high-quality graphene at low cost, taking us one step closer to creating affordable new electronic devices with a wide range of applications, from the smart cities of the future to mobile healthcare."
The team’s paper, titled ‘Synthesis of Large Area Graphene for High Performance in Flexible Optoelectronic Devices’, is published in Scientific Reports. The research was funded by the European Commission and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Council (EPSRC).