Replacing Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) with next-generation graphene in electronic devices

Lead Participant: Paragraf Ltd

Abstract

This is a disruptive project to replace Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) by next-generation graphene in a range of electronic and light emitting devices. ITO is the most common transparent conductive material used today because of its high electrical conductivity, high optical transparency and ease of deposition. Because of this remarkable combination of properties, ITO is currently used in a large number of applications, e. g. solar cells, displays, LEDs, OLEDs, touch panels, smart watches, etc. More than 90% of the display market uses ITO. However, ITO is expensive and costs 1700 Euro/kg. In addition, Indium is on the EU Critical Materials List, and is stated to have an "irreplaceable role in industry and society." There is therefore an urgent need to replace ITO. The global market for ITO is $2.6 billion per year and rising. Replacing ITO is therefore a huge market opportunity.

Paragraf, a recent spin-out company from Prof. Humphreys' group, has developed a new way to grow large-area graphene (up to 8-inch diameter so far) using a modified CVD method. We call this "next-generation graphene". In the normal CVD process the graphene is grown on copper. The copper-contaminated graphene then has to be removed from the copper and transferred onto the desired substrate. Because of these problems it has not been used as an ITO replacement. Our next-generation graphene can be grown directly on substrates such as silicon and it is free from metallic contamination. Replacing ITO by our graphene will be transformational.

The following UK companies are keen to support this project by donating materials upon which Paragraf will deposit graphene. IQE will supply test structures of GaAs electronic devices. Plessey will supply GaN/InGaN LEDs. Verditek will supply silicon solar cells. In addition, QMUL will grow OLEDs on Paragraf graphene. Forge Europa will perform accelerated reliability tests on our devices, donating their time.

We will use cutting-edge science to optimise Paragraf graphene for each application. Optimising graphene involves varying the number of layers, the doping, the growth temperature, etc. This will be challenging. Not only will we measure the conductivity and transparency of our next-generation graphene, we will also study the nature of the chemical bonding of our graphene grown directly on silicon, sapphire, etc., which is currently unknown. So this project goes from basic science through to real applications. We aim to make Graphene useful for manufacturing electronic devices for the first time in the world.

Lead Participant

Project Cost

Grant Offer

 

Participant

Paragraf Ltd
Queen Mary, University of London, United Kingdom £149,841 £ 149,841

People

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