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New Process Revolutionizes Flexible Electronics

15 October 2015

Binghamton University researchers have unveiled a process that enables spatial control over the electrical properties of nanomaterial, graphene oxide. According to the researchers, the 2D material can potentially revolutionize flexible electronics, solar cells and biomedical instruments.

Using the probe of an atomic force microscope to trigger a chemical reaction, Jeffrey Mativetsky, assistant professor of Physics at Binghamton University, and PhD student Austin Faucett, Researchers demonstrated that electrically conductive features as small as four nanometers can be patterned into individual graphene oxide sheets. Credit: AlexanderAlUS/Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0  Researchers demonstrated that electrically conductive features as small as four nanometers can be patterned into individual graphene oxide sheets. Credit: AlexanderAlUS/Wikipedia/CC BY-SA 3.0 One nanometer is approximately 100,000x smaller than the width of a human hair.

Mativetsky claims that their approach makes it possible to draw nanoscale electrically conductive features in atomically-thin insulating sheets with the highest reported spatial control to date. The process can be implemented under ambient conditions and is environmentally benign, becoming a step toward the integration of the material into future technologies.

Graphene oxide has advantages over graphene, including simple production and processing, and highly tunable properties. By removing some of the oxygen, the electrically insulating material can be rendered conductive for use in flexible electronics, sensors, solar cells and biomedical devices.

Mativetsky explained that there is interest in defining regions with different functionalities, and writing circuitry into 2D materials. The process avoids the use of harmful chemicals, high temperatures or inert gas atmospheres, which may help lead to the practical integration of graphene oxide into low-cost and flexible electronics, solar cells and sensors.

The study, "Nanoscale Reduction of Graphene Oxide under Ambient Conditions," first appeared in the online version of the international journal Carbon on Sept. 8, and will be published in print in December. The National Science Foundation recently awarded Mativetsky a three-year grant to further study his approach to tailoring the structure and properties of graphene oxide.

To contact the author of this article, email engineering360editors@ihs.com



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