Exeter scientists Make Graphene-Based ‘Electric Cloth’

In this fast-paced, always-changing world, the electronics industry is showing great promise in the inventions department. Imagining a wearable material that is highly conductive of electricity and transparent would not be possible a couple of years back. But the future possibility of wearing electronic clothing containing computers, phones, and MP3 players is now a reality thanks to researchers’ efforts at the Centre for Graphene Science at the University of Exeter.

Called GraphExeter or, in lay man’s word, ‘electric cloth’, this invisible material has a wide range of use in ‘smart’ mirrors or windows with computerized interactive features. Moreover, its transparency over a wide light spectrum could increase solar panels’ efficiency by nearly 30 %. Its future use in a wide range of applications could reform the electronics industry and predict the centre’s researchers.

Graphene is the thinnest substance known to conduct electricity. It is very flexible, but at the same time, one of the strongest known material. GraphExeter produced from graphene is just one atom thick, making it invisible to the naked eye.

Currently, indium tin oxide (ITO) is the main conductive material used in the electronics industry. Although ITO has limited conductivity due to sheet resistance, no one could adapt graphene to its full capabilities to produce a practicable alternative to ITO.

The researchers at the Centre for Graphene Science sandwiched molecules of ferric chloride between two layers of graphene. Ferric chloride heightens the conductivity of graphene without affecting its transparency. Presently, the team is now developing a spray-on version of GraphExeter that could be ‘sprayed’ directly on mirrors, windows, and fabrics.

 

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