Researchers at the University of Manchester, along with UK graphene manufacturer BGT Materials, printed a radio frequency antenna using compressed graphene ink. The antenna worked well enough to make it practical for use in radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags and wireless sensors, according to the researchers. Furthermore, the antenna is flexible, environmentally friendly and could even be cheaply mass-produced.
The research team found a binder-free way to increase the conductivity of graphene ink. They accomplished this by first printing and drying the ink, and then compressing it with a roller. Compressing the ink increased its conductivity by more than 50 times, and the resulting "graphene laminate" was almost two times more conductive than previous graphene ink made with a binder.
The researchers tested their graphene laminate by printing a graphene antenna onto a piece of paper. The printed antenna was approximately 14 centimeters long, 3.5 millimeter across and radiated radio frequency power effectively. Printing electronics onto cheap, flexible materials could mean that wireless technology, like RFID tags, could become even more ubiquitous. Graphene can be used to reduce the cost thanks to a simple production process and lower material cost.