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Manufacture of graphene sheets

An EU team devised a method for creating nano-sheets of graphene. Using a sputter deposition process and carbon-catalysis, the work produced a reliable and scalable industrial process.
Manufacture of graphene sheets
Graphene is a fundamental physical form of carbon, consisting of sheets of atoms in a hexagonal honeycomb structure. Although the material can be grown, doing so in the form of long, continuous nanoscale sheets remains difficult and low-yield.

The EU-funded CAMGRAPH (Catalysis driven manufacture and patterning of graphene at the nanoscale using probe technologies) project aimed to develop effective new procedures. The goal was to enable production of nano-scale 3D sheets of graphene. Thin-film deposition techniques enabled catalysation of solid carbon sources. The technique is clean, scalable and safe.

The consortium first devised a methodology involving a sputter deposition process, followed by heat-treatment. Sputtering is a process of ejecting material from a solid source, using beams of high-energy particles. The result was a method of coating nano-scale surfaces with multiple layers of graphene. Team members optimised the process to ensure deposition of several continuous layers on uneven surfaces.

In doing so, workers identified the best metal catalyst and optimised each sub-process. The group used radio-based sputtering to deposit carbon and catalyst films directly on to silicon substrates, and on to atomic force microscopy cantilevers.

After complex verification stages, work demonstrated that the technique is clean, reproducible, and achievable in long, continuous sheets. Most importantly, the process is also scalable.

Phase two of the research involved characterisation of the system using various forms of microscopy. Foci included growth characteristics, film construction, and adhesion forces. Thus the project was set up to deliver graphene in the target form.

CAMGRAPH's innovative process for creating nano-scale graphene sheets may be applicable to several nano-scale industrial processes. They include engineering nano-sized molecular electronic devices, and bio-functionalised surfaces.

Related information


Graphene, nanoscale, 3D, sheets, sputter deposition
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