Lower-cost graphene-like material developed by Queen's University chemists

April 18, 2013
Kingston, ON, Canada--Researchers at Queen's University have discovered a cheaper method for making a substance similar to graphene—a wonder material discovered in 2004.

Kingston, ON, Canada--Researchers at Queen's University have discovered a cheaper method for making a substance similar to graphene (http://www.laserfocusworld.com/articles/print/volume-48/issue-05/features/graphene-photonics-are-making-their-way-to-practical-use.html)a wonder material discovered in 2004. Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms, arranged in a lattice pattern, with a wide range of applications including mobile device screens, solar cells, aircraft components, hydrogen fuel cells, and fast-charging lithium-ion batteries. But a discovery by chemistry professor Suning Wang and her team at Queen's University allows for the creation of a material with properties similar to graphene at a much lower cost.

"Dr. Wang's elegant process creates a powerful tool to make B,N-doped graphene-based materials. These materials could potentially be used in a vast range of applications in the electronic, semiconductor, display, fuel cell, solar cell, sensing and imaging industries, to name just a few," says Lucy Su, commercial development manager at PARTEQ Innovations, which filed for patent protection on the technology.

Graphene's revolutionary properties derive from its delicate structure, a single-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms arranged in honeycomb lattices. Creating this ultrathin honeycomb sheet is both tedious and difficult. Dr. Wang and her team have created a simpler, greener "bottom-up" method that replaces some of the carbon atoms with boron and nitrogen. This enables them to "grow" graphene-like honeycomb lattices, simply by exposing the compounds to light. Moreover, unlike graphene, the products can be highly fluorescent. The discovery has been demonstrated by the transformation of a non-fluorescent precursor into a graphene-like fluorescent material. The researchers mixed a non-fluorescent compound in a polymer film. The film was covered up in certain areas to create a pattern. The uncovered areas, when exposed to light, glowed with a bright green hue, evidence that the original, non-fluorescing material had been converted into a fluorescent material. The material could potentially be used in luminescent probes, sensors, electroluminescent devices, or for hydrogen storage.

PARTEQ Innovations is the not-for-profit technology transfer office founded by Queen's University and is a partner in the Rideau Commercialization Network. PARTEQ works with institutional researchers and the business and venture capital communities to bring early stage technologies to market.

SOURCE: Queen's University; http://www.queensu.ca/news/articles/queens-chemists-discover-simpler-method-making-wonder-material

About the Author

Gail Overton | Senior Editor (2004-2020)

Gail has more than 30 years of engineering, marketing, product management, and editorial experience in the photonics and optical communications industry. Before joining the staff at Laser Focus World in 2004, she held many product management and product marketing roles in the fiber-optics industry, most notably at Hughes (El Segundo, CA), GTE Labs (Waltham, MA), Corning (Corning, NY), Photon Kinetics (Beaverton, OR), and Newport Corporation (Irvine, CA). During her marketing career, Gail published articles in WDM Solutions and Sensors magazine and traveled internationally to conduct product and sales training. Gail received her BS degree in physics, with an emphasis in optics, from San Diego State University in San Diego, CA in May 1986.

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