New technique from Oxford University produces high-quality sheets of graphene

Materials scientists at Oxford University have developed a technique for producing graphene in large high-quality sheets, its technology commercialisation arm has said.

Isis Innovation said the researchers had solved a “major barrier” to the development of the material – making it available in commercial-scale sheets of repeatable and uniform quality.

The invention, which is in the patent application process, permits the manufacture of commercial scale graphene sheets using a transition metal substrate combined with an intermediate silicon containing liquid film.

Graphene sheets are made using chemical vapour deposition (CVD). Large, high-quality graphene flakes are produced. Synthesis times are reduced by 50 times, Isis claimed, adding that it was looking for commercial partners.

“We are pursuing research into graphene and other important tailored nanomaterials with end use applications very much in mind, and in close collaboration with SMEs and internationally leading industry partners,” said Prof Nicole Grobert, head of the nanomaterials by design team at Oxford Materials.

“I believe this approach is the fastest way for commercial adoption of the new materials and more specifically nanomaterials, such as graphene. 

“It’s only when engineers see the end use and benefits of graphene that public research will gain payback.”

Graphene came to prominence in the UK five years ago when the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov of Manchester University for their experiments with the material.

Despite this, Britain lags other industrialised nations in graphene’s development. Korea’s Samsung had more than 400 patents for the material in 2013. In that year, only 1% of patents filed worldwide for graphene were filed in the UK: just 54 in total.

Other leading commercial developers include IBM and Ocean’s King Lightning of China, which was formed in 1995.

Academic institutions in China lead the way in terms of development of intellectual property for graphene. 

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