A new report, just published in Nature, could herald a new era in e-reader displays. The report, “Synthesis of Large Area Graphene for High Performance in Flexible Optoelectronic Devices,” from a team at the University of Glasgow, details a new manufacturing technique for graphene-based displays, instancing production costs down from $115 per square metre to just $1. And the team are crystal clear on the potential applications for rollable or folding displays and high-resolution e-paper.

“Large scale and low cost synthesis of high quality graphene films and the compatibility of our method to the roll-to-roll fabrication would open an avenue through the realization of graphene based flexible optoelectronic systems such as cell phones with roll-up displays, e-paper, radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags, as well as medical patches that can be attached to the skin,” state the researchers in their abstract. The new technique hinges on “using the ultra-smooth copper foils which are typically used as the negative electrodes in lithium-ion batteries” as a substrate. These are already available in bulk, and as it turns out, work just fine for one-atom-thick graphene displays. “We propose that the copper foils used in the lithium-ion batteries could be used to obtain high-quality graphene at much lower-cost, with the improved performance of electrical transport and optical properties in the devices made from them,” the researchers add.

Almost needless to say, this research is simply scientific demonstration of a new production method, at this stage. We are still a long way from seeing any of this technology in production. The claims made for it at this stage may not be borne out in practice. But the team’s precise focus on display applications and careful costing are very encouraging. This isn’t the first time that graphene has been cited as the basis for the e-reader displays of the future. This time may be the real thing.

(Illustrations above are courtesy of the original scientific report in Nature.)


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