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Making the "dream material" graphene fit for industry

Published on 1. Februar 2011, 11:59 h
Advanced nanophysical research at Bielefeld University

Graphene is a material made up of one-atom thick sheets of carbon atoms arranged in hexagonal honeycomb lattices. It is not just the thinnest but also the strongest material that human beings have ever manufactured. In 2010, the physicists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov (University of Manchester) were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their basic research on graphene. However, Bielefeld University also has two physicists, Prof. Dr. Armin Gölzhäuser and Dr. Andrey Turchanin, who are carrying out intensive research on this promising nanomaterial with its special electronic properties. They are being funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF). Although there are still no products containing graphene, the material makes it possible to develop fast transistors (above 100 gigahertz) that would be much faster than the silicon transistors used in today's computer chips. Hence, graphene has enormous economic potential. In future, millions of graphene-based products could be used in computers, solar cells, or displays.


The physicists Dr. Andrey Turchanin (left) and Prof. Dr. Armin Gölzhäuser
The physicists Dr. Andrey Turchanin (left) and Prof. Dr. Armin Gölzhäuser
In Bielefeld this future has already started. Armin Gölzhäuser and Andrey Turchanin are beginning to move beyond basic research. Their goal is to make graphene fit for mass production. They have developed physical and chemical procedures for manufacturing graphene from organic molecules. They bring very thin layers of molecules onto metal surfaces. By exposing them to electron beam radiation, the single molecules fuse into a closed layer that turns into graphene when heated in a vacuum.

Turchanin and Gölzhäuser want to use this very simple manufacturing method to produce large amounts of graphene to be used in, for example, electronic components. For example, using graphene instead of the current indium-based materials could revolutionize the liquid crystal displays (LCDs) used in flat-screen monitors and cell phones. This is particularly crucial, because the world's limited reserves of indium will run out in a few years. Turchanin and Gölzhäuser are receiving a total of approximately one million Euro from the DFG and the BMBF to carry out this research.

 Physicists, chemists, materials scientists, and engineers are working in interdisciplinary projects to study graphene. The Bielefeld scientists' partner institutes are the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (national metrology institute) in Braunschweig, the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Mainz, die RWTH Aachen University in Aachen, and the Humboldt University in Berlin. These cooperations are being coordinated in Bielefeld. With its excellent laboratory facilities such as the new scanning helium ion microscope, Bielefeld University offers a unique research infrastructure for research on graphene. As Bielefeld University's Vice President for Research, Prof. Dr. Martin Egelhaaf emphasizes in this context: "The nanosciences are one of the profile domains in which the University has invested specifically in recent years. Moreover, research on graphene is a wonderful and very advanced example of applied collective research".


Graphene: A layer of carbon atoms in a honeycomb lattice
Graphene: A layer of carbon atoms in a honeycomb lattice
Micrograph of a field effect transistor made of graphene manufactured at Bielefeld University. The properties of this innovative material are being tested for future applications in electronics and sensors at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt in Braunschweig.
Micrograph of a field effect transistor made of graphene manufactured at Bielefeld University. The properties of this innovative material are being tested for future applications in electronics and sensors at the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt in Braunschweig.
Contact:
Professor Dr. Armin Gölzhäuser, Bielefeld University
Faculty of Physics/Bielefeld Institute for Biophysics and Nanoscience (BINAS)
Tel: 0521 106-5362
E-Mail: ag@uni-bielefed.de

Privatdozent Dr. Andrey Turchanin
Faculty of Physics /Bielefeld Institute for Biophysics and Nanoscience (BINAS)
Tel: 0521 106-5376
E-Mail: turchanin@physik.uni-bielefeld.de

Posted by NLangohr in General
Tags: fo hp
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