A new Nature study could pave the way to bendable electronics and cost-effective manufacturing.
According to the study, coating a substrate by a layer of graphene doesn’t interfere with its ability to continue to guide crystal growth.
The epitaxy of materials, or the process by which crystals are grown on top of a substrate, is widely applied in the manufacture of optoelectronics such as LEDs and lasers.
NatureAsia reports, “For such substrate-guided growth to be possible, however, the surface of the substrate has to be completely homogeneous and free of impurities. Now, scientists have discovered that coating the surface of the substrate with a single layer of graphene (a carbon layer in which each carbon atom is bonded to only three other carbons) does not interfere with epitaxy.”
This means that the crystals grow on top of the substrate, right through the graphene.
“The advantage of this is not restricted to surface protection. The thin films that start growing above the graphene layer can also be removed relatively easily by mechanical exfoliation, to produce thin and bendable semiconductors. Additionally, substrates, which can be expensive, can be reused.”