Graphene is an ideal material for electronic and micro-electro-mechanical devices such as extraordinarily sensitive chemical or mechanical sensors. Their range of applications is broad ranging from healthcare to environmental monitoring.
Most of the current graphene synthesis methods are not compatible with device production.
A team at Griffith University led by Dr Francesca Iacopi, in collaboration with a team from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) led by Professor Nunzio Motta, are developing a new method to fabricate graphene that is compatible with established semiconductor manufacturing processes.
“We are making device-quality graphene by heating an epitaxial silicon carbide (SiC) film in a vacuum until a few monolayers of silicon atoms sublime leaving behind the high quality graphene layer,” said Dr Francesca Iacopi, ARC Future Fellow and project leader at Griffith University.
“The availability of high quality SiC-on-silicon films from the Griffith site of ANFF–Q is crucial.”
ANFF-Q laboratories at Griffith University are world leaders in SiC epitaxial deposition. High quality SiC films were deposited at the ANFF-Q facilities with their flagship epitaxial reactor. The sublimation process was performed in-situ with the scanning tunnelling electron microscopy facilities with collaborators from QUT.
“Having established a process that can be adapted to manufacturing, the potential impact is enormous. Graphene devices can only find real-life applications if they can be produced on a large scale,” said Dr Francesca Iacopi
In parallel with the development of graphene manufacturing, the team are looking to develop their own sensing technologies that they may be able to manufacture in-house. This platform would be able detect chemicals in fluids for applications in health and water monitoring.