Exeter scientists Make Graphene-Based ‘Electric Cloth’

University of Exeter researchers Dr Monica Craciun and Dr Saverio Russo.

In this fast paced, always changing world, the electronics industry is showing great promise in inventions department. Imagining a wearable material that is highly conductive of electricity and transparent as well would not be possible a couple of years back. But the future possibility of wearing electronic clothing containing computers, phones and MP3 player is now a reality thanks to the efforts of researchers 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 computerised interactive features. Moreover, its transparency over a wide light spectrum, could increase the efficiency of solar panels by nearly 30 percent. Its future use in a wide range of applications could reform the electronics industry, predict the researchers at the Centre.

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 was able to adapt graphene to its full capabilities to produce a practicable alternative to ITO.

The researchers at 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.

Image Credit: University of Exeter

 

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