Robots might one day sport a transparent, sensor-rich skin, thanks to a recent advance in graphene production. The new approach is significantly cheaper and easier than previous methods.
The research team, led by Professor Monica Craciun from the University of Exeter, say the material produced is also the first transparent and flexible touch-sensor that could enable the development of artificial skin for use in robot manufacturing.
“The vision for a ‘graphene-driven industrial revolution’ is motivating intensive research on the synthesis of high quality and low cost graphene,” Craciun said in a statement. “Currently, industrial graphene is produced using a technique called Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD). Although there have been significant advances in recent years in this technique, it is still an expensive and time consuming process.”
The new technique involves growing graphene in an industrial cold wall CVD system, a state-of-the-art piece of equipment recently developed by UK graphene company Moorfield. Using this approach, graphene grows 100 times faster than conventional methods, and costs are reduced by 99 % and has enhanced electronic quality.
These research findings are published in the leading scientific journal, Advanced Materials.
“We are very excited about the potential of this breakthrough using Moorfield’s technology and look forward to seeing where it can take the graphene industry in the future,” said Dr Jon Edgeworth, Technical Director at Moorfield.