Washington, May 26 : It's only a matter of a few years before scientists develop graphene based computer and TV displays, for researchers at the University of Manchester have taken a step in this direction by creating tiny liquid crystal devices with electrodes made from graphene.
Researchers led by Dr Kostya Novoselov from The School of Physics and Astronomy and The School of Computer Science, have said that graphene could be used as a transparent conductive coating for electro-optical devices and that its high transparency and low resistivity make it ideal for electrodes in liquid crystal devices.
"Graphene is only one atom thick, optically transparent, chemically inert, and an excellent conductor. These properties seem to make this material an excellent candidate for applications in various electro-optical devices that require conducting but transparent thin films. We believe graphene should improve the durability and simplify the technology of potential electronic devices that interact with light," says Novoselov.
Graphene is an incredible one-atom-thick gauze of carbon atoms, resembling chicken wire and was discovered in 2004 by Professor Andre Geim FRS and Royal Society Research Fellow Dr Kostya Novoselov.
"Transparent conducting films are an essential part of many gadgets including common liquid crystal displays (LCDs) for computers, TVs and mobile phones. The underlying technology uses thin metal-oxide films based on indium. But indium is becoming an increasingly expensive commodity and, moreover, its supply is expected to be exhausted within just 10 years," said Prof Geim.
He added: "Forget about oil - our civilisation will first run out of indium. Scientists have an urgent task on their hands to find new types of conductive transparent films."
Now, researchers have demonstrated that highly transparent and highly conductive ultra-thin films can be produced cheaply by 'dissolving' chunks of graphite into graphene and then spraying the suspension onto a glass surface. The resulting graphene-based films can be used in LCDs.
In order to prove this concept, the investigators have demonstrated the first liquid crystal devices with graphene electrodes.
According to Novoselov, only after a few small incremental steps, this technology may reach a mass production stage.
"Graphene-based LCD products could appear in shops as soon as in a few years", he added.
Recently researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research in Germany reported how they had used graphene-based films to create transparent electrodes for solar cells. On the other hand, German team used a different technology for obtaining graphene films, which involved several extra steps.
The Manchester team claimed that the films they have developed are much simpler to produce, and they can be used not only in LCDs but also in solar cells.
The results have been reported in the American Chemical Society's journal Nano Letters.