Graphene, the wonder material, has done it again. It appears that it doesn’t matter how crazy a scientist’s idea may sound, graphene can probably do it. The latest achievement on the score board of the super strong and highly conductive is emitting light.
Engineers from the Columbia University managed to build the thinnest light bulb by putting teeny tiny strips of graphene together. Their results are described in a new study available in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
A team was formed with help from Seoul National University (SNU) scientists and researchers from the Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS), and the result of their collaboration was worth it: a light bulb formed of incredibly thin strips of graphene attached to metal electrodes. The construct would light up as soon as a current passed through the strips.
In a recent press release, study co-author James Hone, professor of mechanical engineering at Columbia, said they basically invented the world’s thinnest light bulb.
And the applications for this new type of light emitter are endless, starting with chip-integration, which will pave the way toward transparent displays that are atomically thin and flexible; optical communications based on graphene will also be a possibility.
Light was one of the missing elements of a chip that scientists could not figure out how to integrate. Electric currents will be replaced by the so-called photonic circuits.
Before experimenting with graphene, scientists have tried to incorporate the traditional incandescent filament into integrated circuits, but they would always be too hot and pose a risk of burning the other circuit components.
It’s not the same with the graphene filament, which can be heated with reduced heat transfer way more efficiently. This material becomes less efficient in transferring heat if it gets too hot. That’s why the higher temperatures are confined in the center of the glowing filament of the graphene strips.
Visible light produced by graphene does not need large amounts of energy, as explained by Myung-Ho Bae, a senior researcher at KRISS. Bae is also one of the study’s co-lead authors, in partnership with Young Duck Kim, a postdoctoral researcher at Columbia.
After discovering this unique and innovative way of emitting light, researchers are looking for new ways in which they can perfect their product an develop applications.
And they are dreaming big, as they hope to create “micro-hotplates” that would heat up in a fraction of a second to thousands of degrees, providing a new way of studying chemical reactions that need high temperatures.
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