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Making it simpler to manufacture graphene

Researchers at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology, KIST, have found a way to produce graphene-like layers at a much lower cost through a simpler process based on polymers. 
Part of their results was made available through a paper on the Nanoscale magazine in the January 21th edition. Now they are moving into refinement for making industrial production possible, targeting photovoltaic panels that can increase their yield by overlaying a graphene layer on the glass panel.
The process first requires coating a substrate, like quartz, with a polymer solution and then heating it. This leaves a one atom layer thick of carbon atoms forming hexagon that have properties very similar to graphene. The process is much simpler. Today production of graphene requires 8 steps and then the layer has to be moved to where one can use it, thus introducing wrinkles and breaks. In this case, on the contrary, the layer of carbon atoms can be produced directly on the quartz surface of the photovoltaic panel.
The breakthrough is in the polymer made with a rigid ladder structure called PIM-1 (Polymer of intrinsic microporosity-1) that forms the carbon nanostructure that is subsequently cleaned from the non carbon atoms by heat (1,200 degrees Celsius).
The European flagship project to exploit graphene has just started (it is in its second year of a 10 year roadmap) and will hopefully come out with solution for mass production of graphene, but it is nevertheless good to see that researchers can take some shortcuts to start having materials with very graphene like properties available today.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the New Initiative Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He is a member of the IEEE in 2050 Ad Hoc Committee. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.