Samsung has announced a new breakthrough in the manufacture of graphene that could bring lighter, faster and more flexible devices in the near future. In graphene, carbon atoms are densely packed in a hexagonal lattice, quite resembling a honeycomb. It remains one of the strongest, most durable materials on the planet.
In association with Sungkyunkwan University, Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT), became the first organisation in the world to uses the synthesis method to produce graphene that can be used in electronic semi-conductors and other applications. Samsung’s work would help in making mass production of graphene less cumbersome and SAIT has managed to synthesise graphene using a method that previously yielded less than satisfying results.
“This is one of the most significant breakthroughs in graphene research in history,” said the laboratory leaders at SAIT’s Lab. “We expect this discovery to accelerate the commercialization of graphene, which could unlock the next era of consumer electronic technology.”
Graphene with 100 times greater electron mobility than silicon, is more durable than steel, and has high heat conductibility as well as flexibility. It makes it the perfect fit for next-gen chipsets as well as flexible displays, new wearables and other devices. The semiconductor industry relies on the ability to grow the area of a silicon wafer, while steadily decreasing the process node. Commercialised graphene could displace the industry’s reliance on silicon. So it was vital to develop a new method to grow a single crystal graphene into a large area.
SAIT uncovered the new method of growing large area, single crystal wafer scale graphene. “In the past, researchers have found that multi-crystal synthesis – the process of synthesizing small graphene particles to produce large-area graphene – deteriorated the electric and mechanical properties of the material, limiting its application range and making it difficult to commercialize,” Samsung’s Tomorrow blog said.
The new method synthesizes large-area graphene into a single crystal on a semiconductor, maintaining its electric and mechanical properties, which is what makes graphene such a desirable material, but which also contributes to the difficulty in easily manufacturing it.