MIT develops low-reject graphene conveyor technology

MIT develops low-reject graphene conveyor technology

The wonderful material graphene is easy and inexpensive to produce, but it is very difficult to use it in products. The thickness of the graphene sheet is less than a nanometer. When separated from the uterine substrate, the graphene sheet is torn, wrinkled, or otherwise damaged. Researchers at MIT found it possible to avoid damage to large-area graphene sheets during production. As a result, this can lead to the appearance of ultralight solar cells or displays.

The new manufacturing process, which was developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and promises to be relatively easily scalable for industrial production, includes the creation of an intermediate “buffer” layer of material. This buffer layer has become the key to success that can help commercialize development.

Traditionally, graphene is created by vacuum vapor deposition (CVD). The material is deposited on a copper substrate, with which it must then be lifted. To remove the thinnest layer of graphene from a copper base, scientists proposed to strengthen it with a buffer layer of a polymer such as parylene. The atomic structure of parylene is in many respects similar to the atomic structure of graphene and one material lays so well on the other that doping of graphene with parylene occurs in some way.

Experiments have shown that parylene effectively strengthens graphene, and this eliminates tearing and deformation of large graphene sheets when removed from a copper substrate. Moreover, the proposed process technology and pilot plant proved that the process of laminating graphene on a substrate and subsequent operations on delamination and separation of graphene from a copper base can be carried out by the conveyor method when processing graphene in rolls, and this significantly accelerates the production of material.

MIT pilot plant for coiled graphene production

MIT pilot plant for coiled graphene production

Now about what it gives. You have probably heard that today, indium oxide and tin oxide (ITO) are used to make transparent electrodes in displays, solar panels, and light-emitting devices. Transparent and palyle-reinforced graphene electrodes can replace ITO electrodes. This will give savings in weight and material (cost) and show the effect in terms of a better ratio of the generated energy to the weight of the element.

So, the prototype of a solar cell created at MIT with transparent graphene and parylene electrodes showed a layer transparency of about 90% for visible light, as well as a 36-fold improvement in the ratio of the generated energy to the weight of the element (which is ultralight solar panels) using 1/200 material of the volume usually required for the production of panels.

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