Researchers at the University of Glasgow, Scotland, have found a way to produce large sheets of graphene using the same inexpensive-type of copper used to manufacture lithium-ion batteries found in many household devices. The process was explained in a paper published recently in the journal Scientific Reports. The work has implications for use in providing sensory perception to prosthetic limbs.
Graphene is often produced by a process known as chemical vapor deposition (CVD), which turns gaseous reactants into a film of graphene on a special surface known as a substrate. The research team used a similar process to create high-quality graphene across the surface of commercially available copper foils of the type often used as the negative electrodes in lithium-ion batteries. The ultrasmooth surface of the copper provided an excellent bed for the graphene to form upon. They found that the graphene they produced offered an improvement in the electrical and optical performance of transistors that they made compared to similar materials produced from the older process.
“The commercially available copper we used in our process retails for around one dollar per square meter, compared to around $115 for a similar amount of the copper currently used in graphene production,” said Ravinder Dahiya, PhD, Reader and EPSRC Fellow with the University of Glasgow’s School of Engineering. “This more expensive form of copper often required preparation before it can be used, adding further to the cost of the process.”
Much of Dahiya’s research is in the field of synthetic skin. “Graphene could help provide an ultraflexible, conductive surface which could provide people with prosthetics capable of providing sensation in a way that is impossible for even the most advanced prosthetics today,” he said.