Rice team modifies laser-induced graphene process to create micron-scale patterns in photoresist

A Rice University team has modified its laser-induced graphene technique to make high-resolution, micron-scale patterns of the conductive material for consumer electronics and other applications. Laser-induced graphene (LIG), introduced in 2014 by Rice chemist James Tour, involves burning away everything except carbon from polymers or other materials, leaving the carbon atoms to reconfigure themselves into films of characteristic hexagonal graphene. The process employs a commercial laser that “writes” graphene patterns into surfaces that to date have included wood, paper and even food.

Rice lab uses laser-induced graphene process to create micron-scale patterns in photoresist image

The new version writes fine patterns of graphene into photoresist polymers, light-sensitive materials used in photolithography and photoengraving. Baking the film increases its carbon content, and subsequent lasing solidifies the robust graphene pattern, after which unlased photoresist is washed away.

Duke team creates fully recyclable printed electronics

Researchers at Duke University have created transistors with three carbon-based inks. The all-carbon thin-film transistors were made using crystalline nanocellulose as a dielectric, carbon nanotubes as a semiconductor, graphene as a conductor and paper as a substrate. This type of component could assist in addressing the environmental problem of accumulation of electronics that are non-recyclable.

“Silicon-based computer components are probably never going away and we don’t expect easily recyclable electronics like ours to replace the technology and devices that are already widely used,” said Professor Aaron Franklin, an electrical engineer at Duke University. “But we hope that by creating new, fully recyclable, easily printed electronics and showing what they can do, that they might become widely used in future applications.”

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Graphene ‘nano-origami’ could enable tiny microchips

Scientists at the University of Sussex have developed a technique for making tiny microchips from graphene and other 2D materials, using a form of ‘nano-origami’.

By creating distortions in the structure of the graphene, the researchers were able to make the nanomaterial behave like a transistor. “We’re mechanically creating kinks in a layer of graphene,” says Professor Alan Dalton of the School of Mathematical and Physics Sciences at the University of Sussex. “It’s a bit like nano-origami. Using these nanomaterials will make our computer chips smaller and faster. It is absolutely critical that this happens as computer manufacturers are now at the limit of what they can do with traditional semiconducting technology. Ultimately, this will make our computers and phones thousands of times faster in the future.”

Researchers design method that makes graphene nanoribbons easier to produce

Russian researchers have proposed a new method for synthesizing high-quality graphene nanoribbons. The team's approach to chemical vapor deposition offers a higher yield at a lower cost, compared with the currently used nanoribbon self-assembly on noble metal substrates.

Two nanoribbon edge configurations imageTwo nanoribbon edge configurations. The pink network of carbon atoms is a ribbon with zigzag (Z) edges, and the yellow one has so-called armchair (A) edges. Image credit MIPT

Unlike silicon, graphene does not have the ability to switch between a conductive and a nonconductive state. This defining characteristic of semiconductors is crucial for creating transistors, which are the basis for all of electronics. However, once you cut graphene into narrow ribbons, they gain semiconducting properties, provided that the edges have the right geometry and there are no structural defects. Such nanoribbons have already been used in experimental transistors with reasonably good characteristics, and the material’s elasticity means the devices can be made flexible. While it is technologically challenging to integrate 2D materials with 3D electronics, there are no fundamental reasons why nanoribbons could not replace silicon.