The world of solid state electronics is in awe of graphene. This single layer of carbon chickenwire has the potential to revolutionise electronics (and much else) because it has enviable electronic, mechanical and thermal properties that no other material can match.
The news today is that Ellen Williams and buddies at the University of Maryland at College Park have worked out how to use graphene in printed circuits. The technique is conceptually straightforward: simply stamp the graphene onto a plastic circuit board in the required shape and hope it sticks. Then stamp other components on top of it. And voila! A printed graphene circuit.
Williams and her team have wasted no time demonstrating the technique, by printing a field effect graphene transistor onto a plastic substrate. “This represents the ultimate extension of printing technology to a single atomic layer,” they say.
Engineers are going to be fascinated by the properties of these transistors, not least because they are almost perfectly transparent at optical frequencies. Anybody think why that might be useful?
Of course, there is much work to be done, not least in making graphene itself. At the moment, Williams (and almost everyone else) can only get graphene by chipping away at a block of graphite and hunting for graphene in the debris. That’s a technique even Fred Flintstones would recognise. Any advance is going to be hugely welcomed.
Ref: arxiv.org/abs/0809.1634: Printed Graphene Circuits