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Graphene: Synthesis and Applications: Author Interview

by Editor1 last modified December 14, 2011 - 22:18

As the nanocommunity celebrates the year since the pioneers of graphene won the Nobel Prize, speaks with the co-editor of Graphene: Synthesis and Applications. This is first comprehensive book to look at the exciting industrial properties and promises of graphene’s planar sheet. Prof. Wonbong Choi is the Director of Nanomaterials & Device Laboratory at Florida International University’s Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering.

Graphene: Synthesis and Applications: Author Interview


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In 2010, the world of nanomaterials rocketed to fame with word the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics to a pair of researchers for their groundbreaking experiments with graphene, a revolutionary sheet material just one-atom thick.

Now just about 1 year later, a group of leading nanomaterials experts has collaborated to deliver Graphene: Synthesis and Applications, the first comprehensive book to look at the exciting industrial properties and promises of graphene’s planar sheet of sp2-bonded carbon atoms densely packed in a honeycomb crystal lattice. speaks with the co-editor of this book Prof. Wonbong Choi, Director of Nanomaterials & Device Laboratory at Florida International University’s Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, Research on the synthesis of a single sheet of graphene for industrial applications is still in its nascent stages. What prompted you and your team to write Graphene: synthesis and Applications at this time?

Prof. Choi: Yes, research on the synthesis of a single sheet of graphene for industrial use is in its early stages. It was only discovered less than 10 years ago, in 2004. So, this is very recent, but already graphene’s properties are exciting a lot of interest with researchers in many areas.

Our book, Graphene: Synthesis and Applications, looks at the advancement and future directions of graphene research in the areas of synthesis and properties. And we wanted a book that would address not just the concerns of academia but how to bring those discoveries to industry, so we also have chapters on production, reliability and issues related to manufacturing.

In summary, with this book we tried to sum up the today’s basic literature on the basic sciences of graphene synthesis available, and bring that into perspective for industrial implications for electronics, sensors, semiconductors and composites. Very strong, Prof. Choi. How did you go about amassing the expertise to edit a book on the subject?

Prof. Choi: I got started with the idea of a book after I attended graphene symposium, where I met with experts who also felt the same way. So, I got excited about bringing experts together [to compile] a book on graphene's uses from many disciplines, and then I started to contact fellow experts. This book, the first on graphene synthesis and applications is the result. What do you see as some of the characteristics that make graphene so exciting to researchers?

Prof. Choi: Graphene offers exceptional electrical, physical and chemical properties and could be a possible replacement for silicon in electronics, and open up new possibilities in other advanced technologies, such as devices, field emissions, sensors, energy and novel composite materials. Notably, your book looks at all these potential areas for industrial uses of graphene?

Prof Choi. Yes, and I’m quite excited that we have so many contributions from experts across many areas, such as physics, materials, chemistry and bionano. I hope this approach will provide many researchers a strong understanding of how graphene might be used in their areas of study. This is the right time to inspect which areas can use this material and implement new applications.

Our contributors look at both theoretical science and industrial aspects of graphene.

  • Topics addressed in Graphene: synthesis and Applications include:
  • Tailoring the Physical Properties of Graphene
  • Graphene synthesis
  • Quantum Transport in Graphene-Based Materials and Devices: From Pseudospin Effects to a New Switching Principle
  • Electronic and Photonic Applications for Ultrahigh-Frequency Graphene-Based Devices
  • Graphene Thin Films for Unusual Format Electronics
  • Nanosized Graphene: Chemical synthesis and Applications in Materials Science
  • Graphene-Reinforced Ceramic and Metal Matrix Composites
  • Graphene-Based Biosensors and Gas Sensors
  • Field Emission and Graphene: An Overview of Current Status
  • Graphene and Graphene-Based Materials in Solar Cell Applications
  • Graphene: Thermal and Thermoelectric Properties How did you first get interested in graphene? Perhaps your story will sound familiar to other nanomaterials researchers?

Prof. Choi: I’ve been in the study of CNTs for industrial applications for more than 10 years, and I’ve found limitations to CNTs for some applications.

For instance, the ability to control the diameter of the carbon nanotubes affect their electrical properties. Also, the placement of CNTs in precise locations can have an impact. Graphene, because it is like a paper sheet, can give us a lot of control over these considerations. Also, for applications in electronics or transistors, CNTs can also have some limitations.

For these applications, materials should be very stable, which is why silicon can be so effective. But, CNTs can be very variable, depending on their structure and diameter. They can also be difficult to produce in large volume with predictability and uniformity. So, our group began looking at graphene for certain applications, mainly because it can be more predictable and easier than CNTs to apply to industrial uses with better control. That’s very interesting, especially your description of your transition from CNTs to graphene. Tell us a about your current graphene research with your group at Florida International University?

Prof Choi: Our research is focused on new materials development, device fabrication using advanced nanofabrication techniques, and novel device concepts for future nano-electronics, nano-sensors and green-energy systems. Graphene has potential application to many of our areas of study.

Prof, Choi’s lists these areas of on-going interest to his research group at FIU:

Dye-sensitive solar cells
Li-on Batteries
Bio-fuel Cells
Aligned CNTs
Field Emission Cold Cathode/RF Applications
Nanoelectronics That is quite a portfolio of work! Are there any particular qualities of graphene that have you and your colleagues most existed about its prospects for industrial use?

Prof. Choi: There are many areas, which is why our book addresses so many disciplines. But for our group, one exciting area we are focused on is the fact we can transmit 97% light through graphene’s thin atomic layers. This compares to about 80% with ITO. But even more valuable, graphene lets us extend the wavelength beyond 300-800 nms to up to 2,000 nms.

These properties make graphene very promising for solar applications, because we could design more flexible and light-weight panels that could even use smaller surface areas to create the same energy. Graphene’s transparency also comes with very strong conductivity, so transistors made with graphene would be more reliable and faster.

Graphene also offers a very large and uniform surface area which we can use for energy applications and sensors. We could also use these characteristics for designing high-power RF electronics such as communication dishes because graphene gives us very high speed to turn off and on – much higher frequency than solid state. So, we could get high power and much lower weight for these larger industrial devices.

All of these [features] come from graphene’s structure of one layer of carbon. How would you expect your book to accelerate the interest and progress in using graphene?

Prof. Choi: I strongly believe that anyone who is looking for the design and manufacture of future electronic devices will have to study graphene. The more [researchers] understand its benefits and properties, they will see there is a new revolution in materials and devices coming. Graphene will play a major part.


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