On the Road to the Commercialization of Graphene: Lessons to be Learned from Carbon Nanotubes

After the Nobel Prize was awarded for the research of graphene in October 2010, the material has occupied the headlines of all technology-related media. Graphene is already positioned as the next “big thing” for many technologies, such as computers, displays, biosensors, and flexible electronics, to name a few. It might be the right time to look back to 2001 when carbon nanotubes (closed rolls of graphene) were the “darlings of the day”, and headlines were full of promises of their bright future. Today, in 2011, most of these expectations were not realized. Is the idea of commercialized carbon nanotubes a thing of the past? Is graphene doomed to repeat their fate?

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Production, properties and potential of graphene

Accepted for publication in Carbon, 2010


Caterina Soldano, Ather Mahmood, Erik Dujardin


This review on graphene, a one atom thick, two-dimensional sheet of carbon atoms, starts with a general description of the graphene electronic structure as well as a basic experimental toolkit for identifying and handling this material. Owing to the versatility of graphene properties and projected applications, several production techniques are summarized, ranging from the mechanical exfoliation of high quality graphene to the direct growth on carbides or metal substrates and from the chemical rouges using graphene oxide to the newly developed approach at the molecular level. The most promising and appealing properties of graphene are summarized from an exponentially growing literature, with a particular attention to matching production methods to characteristics and to applications. In particular, we report on the high carrier mobility value in suspended and annealed samples for electronic devices, on the thickness-dependent optical transparency and, in the mechanical section, on the high robustness and full integration of graphene in sensing device applications. Finally, we emphasize on the high potential of graphene not only as a post-silicon materials for CMOS device application but more ambitiously as a platform for post-CMOS molecular architecture in electronic information processing.



Graphene: Status and Prospects

Science 19 June 2009: Vol. 324. no. 5934, pp. 1530 - 1534


A. K. Geim


Graphene is a wonder material with many superlatives to its name. It is the thinnest known material in the universe and the strongest ever measured. Its charge carriers exhibit giant intrinsic mobility, have zero effective mass, and can travel for micrometers without scattering at room temperature. Graphene can sustain current densities six orders of magnitude higher than that of copper, shows record thermal conductivity and stiffness, is impermeable to gases, and reconciles such conflicting qualities as brittleness and ductility. Electron transport in graphene is described by a Dirac-like equation, which allows the investigation of relativistic quantum phenomena in a benchtop experiment. This review analyzes recent trends in graphene research and applications, and attempts to identify future directions in which the field is likely to develop.



The electronic properties of graphene

Reviews of Modern Physics 81, 109-162 (2009)


A. H. Castro Neto, F. Guinea, N. M. R. Peres, K. S. Novoselov & A. K. Geim


This article reviews the basic theoretical aspects of graphene, a one-atom-thick allotrope of carbon, with unusual two-dimensional Dirac-like electronic excitations. The Dirac electrons can be controlled by application of external electric and magnetic fields, or by altering sample geometry and/or topology. The Dirac electrons behave in unusual ways in tunneling, confinement, and the integer quantum Hall effect. The electronic properties of graphene stacks are discussed and vary with stacking order and number of layers. Edge surface states in graphene depend on the edge termination zigzag or armchair and affect the physical properties of nanoribbons. Different types of disorder modify the Dirac equation leading to unusual spectroscopic and transport properties. The effects of electron-electron and electron-phonon interactions in single layer and multilayer graphene are also presented.



Carbon Wonderland

Scientific American 90-97, April 2008


A.K. Geim & P. Kim


Graphene, a newly isolated form of carbon, provides a rich lode of novel fundamental physics and practical applications.Consider the humble pencil. It may come as a surprise to learn that the now common writing instrument at one time topped the list of must-have, high-tech gadgets. In fact, the simple pencil was once even banned from export as a strategic military asset. But what is probably more unexpected is the news that every time someone scribes a line with a pencil, the resulting mark includes bits of the hottest new material in physics and nanotechnology: graphene.



The Rise of Graphene

Nature Materials 6, 183-191 (2007).


A.K. Geim; K.S. Novoselov


Graphene is a rapidly rising star on the horizon of materials science and condensed-matter physics. This strictly two-dimensional material exhibits exceptionally high crystal and electronic quality, and, despite its short history, has already revealed a cornucopia of new physics and potential applications, which are briefl y discussed here. Whereas one can be certain of the realness of applications only when commercial products appear, graphene no longer requires any further proof of its importance in terms of fundamental physics. Owing to its unusual electronic spectrum, graphene has led to the emergence of a new paradigm of ‘relativistic’ condensed-matter physics, where quantum relativistic phenomena, some of which are unobservable in high-energy physics, can now be mimicked and tested in table-top experiments. More generally, graphene represents a conceptually new class of materials that are only one atom thick, and, on this basis, offers new inroads into low-dimensional physics that has never ceased to surprise and continues to provide a fertile ground for applications.




Electric Field Effect in Atomically Thin Carbon Films

Science 306, 666-669 (2004)


K.S. Novoselov, A.K. Geim, S.V. Morozov, D. Jiang, Y. Zhang, S.V. Dubonos, I.V. Grigorieva, A.A. Firsov


We describe monocrystalline graphitic films, which are a few atoms thick but are nonetheless stable under ambient conditions, metallic, and of remarkably high quality. The films are found to be a two-dimensional semimetal with a tiny overlap between valence and conductance bands, and they exhibit a strong ambipolar electric field effect such that electrons and holes in concentrations up to 1013 per square centimeter and with room-temperature mobilities of È10,000 square centimeters per volt-second can be induced by applying gate voltage.