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Graphene transfer method improves touch screen design

03 Jan 2014

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A team at the National University of Singapore developed a method that allows for high-quality graphene to be grown and transferred onto stiff substrates such as silicon. This process, which was modelled after the ability of beetles and tree frogs to stand on submerged leaves, could be applied to the design of touch screens for optoelectronic modulators, on-chip biosensors and other photonic and electronic devices.

Graphene has many desirable properties that make it a promising material in many applications. However, its production especially for high-end electronics such as touch screens faces many challenges. A team led by Professor Loh Kian Ping, Head of the NUS Department of Chemistry formulated a method that promises the use of graphene in high-value areas where no technique currently exists to grow and transfer graphene with minimal defects for use in semiconductors.

"Although there are many potential applications for flexible graphene, it must be remembered that to date, most semiconductors operate on "stiff" substrates such as silicon and quartz." Thus, a transfer method with the direct growth of graphene film on silicon wafer is needed for enabling multiple optoelectronic applications, Loh said.

In the process called "face-to-face transfer", Dr Gao Libo, the first author who is with the Graphene Research Centre, grew graphene on a copper catalyst layer coating a silicon substrate. After growth, the copper is etched away while the graphene is held in place by bubbles that form capillary bridges, similar to those seen around the feet of beetles and tree frogs attached to submerged leaves. The capillary bridges help to attach the graphene to the silicon surface and prevent its delamination during the etching of the copper catalyst.

Published in the journal Nature, the novel technique can potentially be deployed in batch-processed semiconductor production lines, such as the fabrication of large-scale integrated circuits on silicon wafers.

The researchers will be fine-tuning the process to optimise the high throughput production of large diameter graphene on silicon, as well as target specific graphene-enabled applications on silicon. They are also looking at applying the techniques to other two-dimensional films.




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