Edinformatics - Educational Resource

Graphene Applications

Potential graphene applications include lightweight, thin, flexible, yet durable display screens, electric circuits, and solar cells, as well as various medical, chemical and industrial processes enhanced or enabled by the use of new graphene materials.

In 2013, the European Union made a €1 billion grant to be used for research into potential graphene applications.[6] In 2013 the Graphene Flagship consortium formed, including Chalmers University of Technology and seven other European universities and research centers, along with Nokia.

The funding will be used to set up a communication system to allow the scientific and business interests to meet and develop new uses for graphene and ways to integrate it into future products. It will be headquartered in the Swedish Chalmers University of Technology

Graphene consists of carbon atoms laid down in an atom-thick layer of material, and it holds great promise not only for faster and more efficient electronics but also for a host of other applications ranging from desalinization to the construction of a space elevator.

Drug delivery

Researchers in Monash University discovered that the sheet of graphene oxide can be transformed into liquid crystal droplets spontaneously – like a polymer - simply by placing the material in a solution and manipulating the pH. The graphene droplets change their structure at the presence of an external magnetic field. This finding opens the door for potential use of carrying drug in the graphene droplets and drug release upon reaching the targeted tissue when the droplets change shape under the magnetic field. Another possible application is in disease detection if graphene is found to change shape at the presence of certain disease markers such as toxins.
A graphene 'flying carpet' was demonstrated to deliver two anti-cancer drugs sequentially to the lung tumor cells (A549 cell) in a mouse model. Doxorubicin (DOX) is embedded onto the graphene sheet, while the molecules of tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand (TRAIL) are linked to the nanostructure via short peptide chains. Injected intravenously, the graphene strips with the drug playload preferentially concentrate to the cancer cells due to common blood vessel leakage around the tumor. Receptors on the cancer cell membrane bind TRAIL and cell surface enzymes clip the peptide thus release the drug onto the cell surface. Without the bulky TRAIL, the graphene strips with the embedded DOX are swallowed into the cells. The intracellular acidic environment promotes DOX's release from graphene. TRAIL on the cell surface triggers the apoptosis while DOX attacks the nucleus. These two drugs work synergistically and were found to be more effective than either drug alone.


For integrated circuits, graphene has a high carrier mobility, as well as low noise, allowing it to be used as the channel in a field-effect transistor. Single sheets of graphene are hard to produce and even harder to make on an appropriate substrate.

In 2008, the smallest transistor so far, one atom thick, 10 atoms wide was made of graphene.[30] IBM announced in December 2008 that they had fabricated and characterized graphene transistors operating at GHz frequencies. In May 2009, an n-type transistor was announced meaning that both n and p-type graphene transistors had been created.[32][33] A functional graphene integrated circuit was demonstrated – a complementary inverter consisting of one p- and one n-type graphene transistor. However, this inverter suffered from a very low voltage gain.

According to a January 2010 report,[35] graphene was epitaxially grown on SiC in a quantity and with quality suitable for mass production of integrated circuits. At high temperatures, the quantum Hall effect could be measured in these samples. IBM built 'processors' using 100 GHz transistors on 2-inch (51 mm) graphene sheets.

In June 2011, IBM researchers announced that they had succeeded in creating the first graphene-based integrated circuit, a broadband radio mixer. The circuit handled frequencies up to 10 GHz. Its performance was unaffected by temperatures up to 127 °C.


n 2013 researchers reported the creation of transistors printed on flexible plastic that operate at 25 gigahertz, sufficient for communications circuits and that can be fabricated at scale. The researchers first fabricate the non-graphene-containing structures—the electrodes and gates—on plastic sheets. Separately, they grow large graphene sheets on metal, then peel it off and transfer it to the plastic. Finally, they top the sheet with a waterproof layer. The devices work after being soaked in water, and are flexible enough to be folded.

Transparent conducting electrodes

Graphene's high electrical conductivity and high optical transparency make it a candidate for transparent conducting electrodes, required for such applications as touchscreens, liquid crystal displays, organic photovoltaic cells, and organic light-emitting diodes. In particular, graphene's mechanical strength and flexibility are advantageous compared to indium tin oxide, which is brittle. Graphene films may be deposited from solution over large areas.

Piezoelectric effect

Density functional theory simulations predict that depositing certain adatoms on graphene can render it piezoelectrically responsive to an electric field applied in the out-of-plane direction. This type of locally engineered piezoelectricity is similar in magnitude to that of bulk piezoelectric materials and makes graphene a candidate for control and sensing in nanoscale devices

Readings and References

1-Research Hints at Graphene's Photovoltaic Potential

2-Nokia Technologies -Graphene Flexible Electronics – Nokia R&D UK -- YouTube Video from Nokia

3-Patent Shows That Nokia is Working on Graphene-Based Camera Sensors

4-Graphene 2016 Update Nokia