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United Kingdom Hardware Technology Science

UK University Creates First Inkjet-Printed Graphene Circuit 60

MrSeb writes with this ExtremeTech excerpt aimed at the graphene enthusiasts out there: "You can add another crazy characteristic to graphene's ever-expanding list of 'wonder material' properties: It can now be used to create flexible, transparent thin-film transistors. ... using an inkjet printer. The discovery comes from researchers at the University of Cambridge, UK, who were trying to ameliorate the lackluster performance of existing inkjet-printed electronics. It's already possible to print standard CMOS transistors using different ferroelectric polymer inks, but the resultant circuit is so slow that it can't actually function as a computer. If graphene could replace or augment the interconnects or transistors, these circuits would be a lot faster — and that's what these Cambridge engineers have done. Furthermore, if you didn't think that was cool enough, the graphene-based ink that they've developed is transparent, too."
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UK University Creates First Inkjet-Printed Graphene Circuit

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  • UK University??? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 26, 2011 @03:51AM (#38173322)

    I don't need someone to tell me where Cambridge is.

  • Doesn't surprise me (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jd ( 1658 ) <imipak.yahoo@com> on Saturday November 26, 2011 @04:02AM (#38173356) Homepage Journal

    This was a matter of time, given that they could do regular transistors and graphene is much simpler. What will be interesting, however, is what people do with this. There have been all kinds of interesting attempts at novel engineering (liquid crystal memories, for example) that either never got funded to completion or ended up going nowhere.

    The latter is as it should be. There is no point in research if you know the results beforehand. It is merely fraud to only do what you know will work. The former is typical bigotry against those who actually do the real work in society.

  • Re:Pros and cons (Score:5, Interesting)

    by wierd_w ( 1375923 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @04:56AM (#38173528)

    I can see a rather clever toy being made using this technology.

    Imagine for a moment, that you have a simple robot chasis like hardware platform, with a flat ribbin cable type connector that is really really wide (like the kind that attaches the keyboard inside a laptop, or the ribbon going to the optical head assy of a dvd drive, only much wider.). It is meant to accept all the electronic innards of the robot other than actuators and external ports and battery pack on a printed sheet of slightly textured plastic, that has a commercially inlaid edge connector on one side that fits the really wide flat ribbon connector, and on the other a specially notched corner, or some other orientation feature.

    The sheet is meant to be cleaned, like a dry erase board, but with a special solvent. This makes the sheets reusable.

    The printer loads the sheets, which could be printed on both sides if desired, and prints circuits and traces that lead to the inlaid metal edge connector pads.

    The idea is as a hobby electronics toy for enthusiasts and advanced school children. A kind of "build your own robot" kit with modular servos and sensors that attach to the simplified chasis a little like legos, and with an extremely low cost roll your own logic board that you print on the special plastic sheet. Since the circuit components are all inkjetted, component cost would be minimal: just the cost of the ink.

    Anything from novelty antennas to special logic could be printed on the sheets.

    I could really see such a toy being a fantastic learning aid, especially in a school setting. The limiting factors would be feature size, circuit impedence, and physical realestate on the printed sheet. While probably slower than an arduino, it would offer quite a bit more customization options, especially if it came with some design software that had sample patterns for apus, memory cell circuits, and various logic gates and simple IC units.

  • Just wondering (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 26, 2011 @05:51AM (#38173680)

    So, will this lead to downloadable (based on open source hardware and OS) devices? And downloadable designs for your devices as well?

  • Re:target apps (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Almost-Retired ( 637760 ) on Saturday November 26, 2011 @02:12PM (#38175462) Homepage
    "63C09 processor on a sheet of paper."

    There, I fixed it for you. You see the 6309 was the result of Hitachi obtaining a permission to build a 6809 that was a functional clone of the 6809, but had to call it something else other than its being a cmos 6809 chip, and were enjoined from ever saying there was a difference other than the resultant design was in cmos.

    But something odd happened on the way to the foundry. When the 6809's op-codes were put into a map whose x/y was the value of the nibbles, there was quite a number of 'holes', so Hitachi filled them in with enhanced feature op-codes. Op-codes it remained for the users to discover because even when disclosed, Hitachi was prevented from even confirming their existence. Such things as several more accumulator registers (E,F, and Q which meant A,B,E,F combined for 32 bits), and where the 6809 had some mul functions that gave 16 bit answers, the 6309 had a new 16x16 multiply with a 32 bit answer, and a divide of 16 bits into 32 bits with a 16 bit answer and a 16 bit remainder in 39 clocks worst case. Loads and stores could be 32 bits wide, a slight speedup because it skiped an instruction fetch in the middle, and a switchable ability to pipe line the next instruction fetch during an otherwise idle bus cycle which made it about 10% faster because you actually had to turn it off by a write to the MD register.

    The net result for the color computers OS9 operation system was, when combined with some bug fixing, nearly twice as fast at the same clock speed. FWIW, I have one in my 'coco3', running right now. We call it Nitros9 now. Community supported.

    If this 'sheet of paper' can get to a 2 mhz clock speed, I can see newer developments made even easier already.
    A notebook coco3 for instance. Just turn the 'page' to run a different test configuration. :)

    Cheers, Gene

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats." -- Howard Aiken