Transistors printed from 2D graphene nanosheets

Scientists at AMBER, the materials science centre hosted at Trinity College Dublin, have printed electronics using two-dimensional nanomaterials for the first time.

(Credit: AMBER, Trinity College Dublin)

Working with partners from Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands, the AMBER team was able to develop an all-printed nanosheet transistor that was fully functional. The researchers used graphene nanosheets as electrodes, in combination with 2D tungsten diselenide and boron nitride, which acted respectively as the transistor’s channel and separator. According to the team, the technique could be used to print smart labels for the food and pharmaceutical industries.

“In the future, printed devices will be incorporated into even the most mundane objects such as labels, posters and packaging,” said AMBER’s Professor Jonathan Coleman, from Trinity’s School of Physics.

“Printed electronic circuitry (constructed from the devices we have created) will allow consumer products to gather, process, display and transmit information: for example, milk cartons could send messages to your phone warning that the milk is about to go out-of-date.”

The research is based on Coleman’s previous scalable method of producing 2D nanomaterials such as graphene, a process that has been licensed to manufacturers such as Samsung. Printed electronics are a long way off the levels of performance seen in advanced transistors, but Coleman believes his research could help close the gap, and that nanomaterials could also help reduce the cost of printed electronics.

“We believe that 2D nanomaterials can compete with the materials currently used for printed electronics,” he said. “Compared to other materials employed in this field, our 2D nanomaterials have the capability to yield more cost effective and higher performance printed devices.”

“However, while the last decade has underlined the potential of 2D materials for a range of electronic applications, only the first steps have been taken to demonstrate their worth in printed electronics.”