September 11, 2012
Nanowires Grown On Graphene Could Transform Semiconductor Industry
redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online
Researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) have patented and are commercializing a technology that allows gallium arsenide (GaAs) nanowires to be grown on graphene, a new hybrid material with exceptional optoelectronic properties, in a breakthrough that could fundamentally change the semiconductor industry.
The patented method of growing semiconductor nanowires on atomically thin graphene uses something called Molecular Beam Epitaxy (MBE), the researchers said.
The technology is expected to pave the way for a new class of device systems that allow flexible, self-powered electronics to be integrated into just about anything.
"We have managed to combine low cost, transparency and flexibility in our new electrode," said Helge Weman, a professor at NTNU's Department of Electronics and Telecommunications, and CTO and co-founder of CrayoNano AS, the company he created to commercialize the research.
"We do not see this as a new product," he said, but rather “a template for a new production method for semiconductor devices...We expect solar cells and light emitting diodes to be first in line when future applications are planned."
"Graphene is experiencing tremendous attention worldwide. Companies like IBM and Samsung are driving this development in the search for a replacement for silicon in electronics as well as for new applications, such as flexible touch screens for mobile phones,” he said.
“Well, they need not wait any more. Our invention fits perfectly with the production machinery they already have. We make it easy for them to upgrade consumer electronics to a level where design has no limits," Weman added.
The new technology could be an enabler for a future platform for electronics and optoelectronics devices, such as nanowire solar cells. Such devices would obviously have very large market potential, since they would be efficient, cheap and flexible at the same time. The NTNU breakthrough could also someday be used to make self-powered nanomachines and advanced 3D chips built on graphene and semiconductor nanowires, enabling even smaller and more efficient electronics, NTNU said.