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Printed Graphene Transistors Promise a Flexible Electronic Future

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An artist's impression of a graphene transistor.

A team of researchers has demonstrated that flexible electronic circuits are possible, through the use of graphene RF electronics.

Credit: L. Ponomarenko

A team of academic and industry researchers has shown that flexible electronic circuits could one day be realized through the use of graphene radio-frequency electronics with sufficient speed to generate, receive, and process telecommunication signals.

"I think we can realistically envision flexible smartphones, tablets, and other communication devices" with printed graphene transistors, says University of Texas at Austin researcher Deji Akinwande.

The remarkable switching speed of graphene transistors and circuits fell significantly in past attempts to print them on flexible devices built on plastic, but this drawback has been overcome by the new technology.

Akinwande and University of Texas scientist Rodney Ruoff report record-breaking 25-gigahertz graphene transistors printed on flexible plastic. Akinwande says his team is especially focused on minimizing costs by manufacturing graphene from inexpensive starting materials and producing the devices over large areas.

The researchers first fabricate all of the non-graphene-containing structures on plastic sheets, and separately grow large sheets of graphene on metal. The graphene is then peeled off and transferred to the devices, while the last step involves covering the sheet with a waterproof layer.

Akinwande is collaborating with industry partners to demonstrate printed graphene circuits on a bigger, more practical scale.

From Technology Review
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