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Graphene Sheets Get Easier To Manufacture 81

Posted by kdawson
from the can't-be-too-thin dept.
grunaura writes "South Korean researchers have devised a way to create graphene sheets one centimeter square using a hydrocarbon vapor on heated nickel. It's touted as being more efficient than the current process where graphene sheets are pressed, and there is evidence that 'the quality of graphene grown by chemical vapour deposition is as high as mechanically cleaved graphene.' Graphene is relatively new, but not to Slashdot. This round of news highlighting the technology focuses on the bendable nature of graphene sheets, as opposed to the memory applications or capacitive properties discussed here previously. These films are the closest we have come to superconductors at room temperature."
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Graphene Sheets Get Easier To Manufacture

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  • Now we just need to make some atomic-scale chickens...

  • These films are the closest we have come to superconductors at room temperature.

    Isn't it likely that further refinements will only marginally improve the effectiveness? Unless it is really close to being a room-temperature superconductor already, I don't see them achieving their goal with graphene.

    • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @01:12AM (#26503495)
      Mention was made of its capacitive properties. If you could make continual graphene sheets, for example, and roll them up together with a similarly thin insulator, you could create supercapacitors that would charge almost instantly, yet still store enough charge, at high voltage, to blow off entire limbs if you were not careful... and still be not much bigger than the head of a pin.

      As long as heat dissipation was accounted for, you could charge an electric car in 5 minutes, and easily drive from Seattle to Los Angeles without stopping.

      So yeah... it's a pretty major thing. There are still other applications that could be astounding, like superstrong composites. Space elevator, anyone?

      Of course we care about superconductors, but this stuff will be incredible even if it hardly conducts at all.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by MegaThawt (672826)
        The only way graphine sheets would allow me to "easily drive from Seattle to Los Angeles without stopping" is if they could also be used as a, um, ya know ... incontinence product.
        • I had thought that that slogan was about accidents caused by drunk drivers, but now that you mention it, I see it can also lead to longer non-stop travel.

        • point taken.

          Okay... you could drive from Seattle to L.A. without stopping to charge the vehicle. How's that?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by doghouse41 (140537)

        We just need to deal with the minor issue of designing a domestic power supply that can deliver the 50-100KWh needed to charge such a vehicle within 5 minutes. How do you deliver power at half megawatt rates over domestic wiring? (That's 5000A at 110V for you guys over in the States)....

        • I could be smarmy and say "OP didn't specify you'd charge it at home", but I won't. Instead, I'll say that, while flawed, the car analogy (yay for car analogies!) gives an interesting view of the potential of the material, all else being ideal.
        • by TheLink (130905)
          If you can fit a supercapacitor in a car that can tolerate high currents etc, you are likely to be able to fit and afford a similar or even better one in your home.

          You charge the one in the home slowly and then when the car needs charging you charge the car fast.

          You could also use it to power your home defense system or other high power stuff ;).
        • by lysergic.acid (845423) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @01:58PM (#26507527) Homepage

          5 minutes is probably a bit unrealistic at the moment, but with an electric-based transportation system, we wouldn't have to adhere to current "refueling" patterns. with gasoline/diesel, you need expensive fuel storage & distribution facilities like gas stations, because gasoline has to be shipped by trucks and is somewhat dangerous to store.

          electricity is much cheaper to transport (just send it across electric lines, which are already in place and relatively cheap to build/maintain), does not need to be stored at refueling stations, and requires minimal equipment to distribute. so charging stations could be set up anywhere where there is electricity (which is pretty much everywhere)--you just need to install a socket that the vehicle can be plugged into.

          so whereas people currently have to drive to a gas station to refuel, electric vehicles could be charged wherever & whenever they're parked. there could be a handful of quick-charging stations around town where you go if you need your car charged immediately. but otherwise, people could simply charge their batteries while their car is parked at work, at home, or even at the mall or the grocery store.

          i mean, how many hours a day are you actually driving your car? i'd guess that most people have their cars parked close to 80-90% of the time on most days. that's 19-21 hours a day that your car would spend charging. if at home you only have access to a 7kW power supply, and at work you have a 15kW power supply, you should never have to spend any time actually waiting for your batteries to charge.

          • How about standardizing "energy modules" so that they can be swapped out in 10 minutes or less. That way the "service stations" could keep enough in stock to fast charge and still be able to handle the flow of customers. As energy storage technology improves then the energy modules will weigh less, be smaller, etc but the service stations would handle the upgrading as you would only lease the module until you reach the next service station. Cheaper cars, upgradable, no waiting for charges...?
            • that would be a good idea if they could get them down to a reasonable size. i mean, a 90 lbs girl girl/woman isn't going to be able to change a 77 lbs battery (that's just a single cell--most cars would require at least 10 of these) on her own.

              but i agree with you, battery modules should definitely be standardized, and swapping out dead batteries for charged ones would be a good way to get around long charge times. but right now weight makes that a little impractical. and if we can just make charging outlet

              • by owndao (1025990)
                When I spoke about the "energy module" I meant one unit that could be swapped out in an Express Oil-type station where the customer would never have to touch anything. The car would drive in, an automated or manually controlled lift would remove the entire module carriage from the car and set it in temporary storage for a rapid recharge and use in the next auto to come along. A queue of several of these modules in various states of recharge would be required, the number depending upon the rate of customers
        • > We just need to deal with the minor issue of designing a domestic power supply that can
          > deliver the 50-100KWh needed to charge such a vehicle within 5 minutes.

          You use hyperconductive (not superconductive) graphene cables. There are many applications other than the trendy ones for extremely high-conductivity materials.

        • by Muad'Dave (255648)

          That's 5000A at 110V for you guys over in the States

          We do have 220V (really 240V), just not to your typical outlet. 240V is reserved for large appliances such as stoves, clothes dryers, window-mounted air conditioners, and water heaters. We have what are called Split-phase [wikipedia.org] systems. A typical residential outlet is 120V@15A max, but 20A outlets are available.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Ihmhi (1206036)

        Space elevator, anyone?

        So you're saying we could build these capacitors, overload them, and use the resultant explosion to propel objects into space along an elevator? BRILLIANT!

      • by Twinbee (767046)

        Any idea how much energy or power it could store relative to the best Lithium Ion battery or eeStor one?

        Also how strong is it? One atom layer of the stuff is visible (~2% absorbs light), but how strong is that layer. Could I prod it with my finger, and it would stay together?

        • I did not actually make the calculations, so I just winged it. But I do not think what I stated would be out of range.

          Actually, making capacitors that small would depend just as much on a "superinsulator" as it would on the graphene. Do we have one of those? I don't think so, yet. But on the other hand, if anyone had said 10 years ago that we could bulk-manufacture a conductor that was 1 atom thick, they would have been called nuts.
          • > Actually, making capacitors that small would depend just as much on a "superinsulator"
            > as it would on the graphene. Do we have one of those?

            Yes. The bilayer in supercapacitors.

            • But is it thin enough (no more than a few atoms) to adequately complement the graphene? I guess that was my question.
    • Re:Dead End? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 18, 2009 @01:19AM (#26503523)

      Isn't it likely that further refinements will only marginally improve the effectiveness? Unless it is really close to being a room-temperature superconductor already, I don't see them achieving their goal with graphene.

      It hasn't been shown to be superconducting but its conductivity is orders of magnitude better than silicon (which comprises most of a computer chip -- even the interconnects). I don't think anyone is thinking superconductor applications but rather a silicon successor kind of thing that is evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

      • Well, superconductors have zero resistivity. Very smallish tiny amounts aren't zero.

        Several characteristics of a superconductor depend on the resistivity being exactly zero.

    • by grunaura (659065)
      Currently, there are three methods for creating circuits using graphine. Smashing, spraying and now vapor grown. If the graphine is perfect and I mean, every carbon atom utilizing its four bonds to connect to another carbon atom, we get pretty close to super conductor. These sheets per the nature article are at ~280Ohms resistance. Once we have the ability to reliably "print" sheets with circuits, we come to the point of refining our circuits for each application and we can then get away from "central p
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Superconducting does not just mean very low resistance. It means unique magnetic properties as well. Graphene is not a high temperature superconductor. It is a very good conductor, thats all.

        • agreed. the mention of superconductivity in the blurb is nothing more than using buzz words in a technically correct manner though graphene is not being touted as a superconductor.
        • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Superconducting does not just mean very low resistance. It means unique magnetic properties as well. Graphene is not a high temperature superconductor. It is a very good conductor, thats all.

          This is not correct. The magnetic properties are derived from the resistance. Superconductor does not mean low resistance it means zero resistance (or significantly near).

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Phortune (1455837)
        I hate to be a pedant, especially in my first post, however, I feel that I must inform you that each of the carbon atoms in graphene (as in a single sheet of graphite) only form 3 covalent bonds with their neighbouring carbon atom. The fourth valency remains unbonded and the electron in question is delocalised across the system - giving graphene its conductive capaicity. I hope that this clears things up. This whole thing does sound exciting, though... Who know what the future holds for this technology?
  • Enormous Potential (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tecker (793737) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @01:10AM (#26503487) Homepage
    This breakthrough has the same potential to do to graphine research as did mass production of nanotubes and other nanomaterials. The more readily available the more research can be done. As the price goes down more can get a hold of the material. Maybe we can finally create more powerful chips using this as a substrate.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by TakeyMcTaker (963277)

      Isn't 1x1 cm already big enough to form an entire CPU chip when each transistor is only 1x10 atoms?

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/04/080417142452.htm [sciencedaily.com]

      The South Korean method sounds like a build-up or additive process, to create a small graphene sheet. The Manchester transistor sounds like a subtractive process, to cut electron channels out of the graphene mesh. So can't they do each in order, and start making prototype atom-scale CPU's now? I guess they haven't figured out how to make the subtract

    • Maybe we can finally create more powerful chips using this as a substrate

      New from Frito-Lays, it's Power Chips!!!
      Forget energy drinks, coffee, and soda; just one serving of Power Chips, made with our patented potato-graphene substrate, and you won't need to sleep for a week!

  • Can it replace copper for wires?

    • > Can it replace copper for wires?

      Maybe (but aluminum can do that). An inexpensive material with a few orders of maginitude higher conductivity than copper or aluminum would have enormous economic impact, far beyond electronics.

  • Room temperature SC? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drolli (522659) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @01:57AM (#26503703) Journal

    A small disclaimer: i am working with low-temperature supercondutors, but i only use them in an application, i am not researching these.

    That said, i state my opinion from somebody who want to build sth out of superconductors: The hunt for a room temperature SC has consumed a lot of attention, money, and research time. It would be better to stop focusing on searching for a RT superconductor, and to stop telling everybody you want to do so. In 90% of the cases other properties of the SC prevent its widespread use. That is, because during the last 20 years cooling technology has made great progress. Nowadays, you can buy "press a button and a few hours later you are at 100mK" systems of the shelf, as well as hand held pulse coolers going down to 5K. For most applications, where superconductors would replace normal condutors, cooling is a big issue with normal conductors already. E.g. high field coils build with normal technolody consume incredible amounts of cooling water, which make cooling the same mass to a lower temperature, but much lower cooling power a very favorable idea. In electronics, air conditioners of computing centers now are already big.

    While i believe that graphene is one of the very promising new materials, i dont see it application as superconductor soon. My suggestion for the community would be not to blow out too much research time of this, but focus on the unique properties of the material. If as a byproduct, it turns out to a good SC, it will take 10-15more years to develop applications using it. Moreover, the continuous fantasy of the room temperature SC has worn off a lot of its glory since the first discoveries of HTSCs. The possible disappointment in funding agencies associated with even mentioning this is a dangerous thing. Otherwise i believe whatever you can with graphene, there is a load of really fascinating new physics to be done. But first telling "hey we are close to a room temperature SC" may take the attention of the referee and when reviewing you results, he may say: "you did not do what you promised" instead of "fascinating new science you did!". That is, because the referee is selected to be matching the field of the project. Would i work on graphene mono layers i would prefer to have a senior 2DEG guy as a referee instead on of the HT brewing alchemists (sorry, this is note meant negative - it just honors the fact that the HTC experimentalists are still out in the dark, because theorists did not yet come up with a conclusive theory...., most experimentalist in the field do great experiments with combining really cool analysis methods with great care and use a systematic way of exploring the parameter space of HTC materials, which is fascinating. I am not patient enough to do that.) .

    • by Bazer (760541)

      As you have stated in your small disclaimer: you don't research HTSC and you're probably missing an important piece of the puzzle which would help you understand why they're researching this application. This new method of production has the potential of lowering the costs of researching graphene applications overall, not only HTSCs. There's little you can do to change the focus of a research community if you're not at least ONE of the following two:

      • A respectable member of that community
      • A guy with a big chu
      • by drolli (522659)

        I got that it is about a new method of producing it. The summary was simple enough to get it. I disagree completely with the direction of research, i just wondered about that off all the wonderful things you could think of to do with such a special material as graphene, room temperature SCs are mentioned that prominently.

        And comment has a little bit strange tone, like i stepped on somebody's feet. Would we make the ability to change something by direct influence to a measure for posting a comment on slashd

        • by drolli (522659)
          I correct: ...i agree completely with the direction of research, but...
          • by Bazer (760541)

            And comment has a little bit strange tone, like i stepped on somebody's feet.

            I didn't mean to sound like that and I blame the text-only medium. (mostly but not entirely)

            My point is, you shouldn't dismiss the insight of people who actually do the research, in my opininon. If they say that graphene has the potential to be an HTSC (which they don't BTW), then there may be something to it. Even if they won't succeed in developing an HTSC they may be able to use their acquired knowledge of the material to other purposes. The benefits of research are unpredictable but they're always there

            • by drolli (522659)

              I refer you to the following comment. It may point you to the right direction (namely that all the time that a researcher says "non dissipative transport", there is a risk that all which will be understood about his great research will be "something like a room temperature SC"):

              http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1095855&cid=26506645 [slashdot.org]

              And about people doing research and having insight: I listen very careful if people from other areas of solid state physics talk to me about my subject - they may tell you h

    • by Goldsmith (561202) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @12:27PM (#26506645)

      Graphene is not (at all) a RT superconductor. It's a room temperature quantum conductor with zero-mass relativistic charge carriers, and a mobility that makes modern transistors look very, very slow. That's plenty cool enough. Our danger is not failing to deliver HTSCs, but if we fail to deliver THz transistors. That's where the effort is and that's where the funding is.

      It is the lowest resistance material at room temperature. Most people don't know what a ballistic conductor is, or how the conduction mechanism in graphene works. A word they do understand is "superconductor," so that ends up in all the press releases. Some clever PR guy makes a connection between "almost zero resistance" and "almost a superconductor." He doesn't know any better. Rest assured that the physicists working on graphene do know the difference between the two, and we're not stealing anyone's thunder.

      • For many applications (motors, antennas, transmission lines...) the very, very low room-temperature resistance of graphene is sufficient to make it very, very interesting even though it is not a superconductor. In fact, not being a superconductor can be a plus.

        • by Goldsmith (561202)

          You're right. The first real application for graphene will likely be high frequency antennas.

    • Yes, cooling has got easier but building bif systems and keeping them cold isn't easy. Room Temperature semiconductors may be difficult but what about those at around 75K, the boiling point of nitrogen.

      Tech to keep nitrogen liquid (even on big bits of plant) is well known and even relatively cheap.

  • Very interesting. I often hear that in the next few years a Nobel will be given related to graphene (Geim more than likely).
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Bismuth nanotubes are superconductors at room temperature, if you can make them thin enough - just a few molecules in diameter. One process for making them is by growing a thread between two point electrodes in a molten epoxy-bismuth mixture. Gradually draw the electrodes apart as the nanotube grows in length.

    -Ruggy

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm having trouble finding any source to back this up.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Stop modding this up - bismuth nanotubes are not room temperature superconductors, regardless of diameter. Semiconducting? Sure. Superconducting? Absolutely not. By the way, what does 'few molecules in diameter' even mean??

  • but is it as strong as transparent aluminum [wikipedia.org]?

  • by Goldsmith (561202) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @12:05PM (#26506407)

    This is a great paper, I've already tried this technique and it easily produces graphene.

    Strangely, this technique is not new. This paper kind of jump-started many memories in the field and it turns out that in the 1980s, people were already growing graphene with a method similar to this, and identified it as single layer graphite. There are even atomic resolution images of graphene from the early 90s. For a material "discovered" in 2004, that's kind of a shock. It turns out the word "graphene" didn't show up until 2004, and no one made good electrical devices until then.

    Graphene is not a room temperature superconductor... it's just the best room temperature conductor we've found. Nobody panic.

    • > Graphene is not a room temperature superconductor... it's just the best room temperature
      > conductor we've found.

      But is such a good room-temperature conductor that it will make a big difference once commercialized. Motors, transmission lines, antennas...

  • Samsung (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kupfernigk (1190345) on Sunday January 18, 2009 @12:41PM (#26506801)
    Anybody else notice that two of the researchers are from Samsung?

    I guess that's why the abstract focuses on the conductivity and the transparency of the material. Samsung very obviously wants to be the world number one in imaging and printing, and there is growing evidence that they are going to achieve it.

  • I thought the preferred current method for making graphene sheets was peeling off pencil marks with a piece of Scotch tape.

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