Artificial graphene could outperform the real thing


February 14, 2014

Instead of the usual carbon atoms, artificial graphene is made from crystals of traditional semiconductor materials

Instead of the usual carbon atoms, artificial graphene is made from crystals of traditional semiconductor materials

Graphene is truly a 21st-century wonder material, finding use in everything from solar cells to batteries to tiny antennas. Now, however, a group of European research institutes have joined forces to create a graphene knock-off, that could prove to be even more versatile.

Conventional graphene takes the form of a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms, linked together in a honeycomb pattern. Along with being transparent and conductive, it is also both the world's thinnest material, and the strongest.

The artificial graphene has the same honeycomb structure, but is made from nanometer-thick semiconductor crystals instead of carbon atoms. The chemical makeup, size and shape of those crystals can be tweaked, essentially custom-tuning the properties of the material to the desired application.

It could conceivably be used in many of the same places in which graphene is currently utilized, but with even better performance. According to project partner the University of Luxembourg, “'Artificial graphene' should lead to faster, smaller and lighter electronic and optical devices of all kinds, including higher performance photovoltaic cells, lasers or LED lighting."

Other institutes helping to develop the material include the Institute for Electronics, Microelectronics, and Nanotechnology (IEMN) in France; the Debye Institute for Nanomaterials Science and the Institute for Theoretical Physics of the University of Utrecht, in The Netherlands; and Germany's Max Planck Institute for the Physics of Complex Systems. A paper on the research was recently published in the journal Physical Review X.

Source: University of Luxembourg

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away. All articles by Ben Coxworth

mind = blown

Joel Detrow

How fascinating!

Chuck Anziulewicz

I can see the day coming when this stuff, or some other 'graphene' lookalike, becomes so cheap and durable that it can be used ubiquitously in intelligent floor coverings. Seeing as we all have individual gaits and that they can identify us almost as easily as our fingerprints do, how long will it be before anyone who wants to know where we are will be able to do so even more easily than they already can? I pity anyone with a phobia of not walking on the cracks between floor tiles! They would be easiest of all to spot.

Perhaps I am being overly paranoid, but we must remember Thomas Jefferson's famous words: 'the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.' (O.k. I know that there is some doubt about its authorship, but I also know that it isn't an original piece of writing by me.)

Mel Tisdale

Elevator to space? Is this something that's strong enough?

John Birk
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