It's not much use developing clever new materials in the lab unless they can be mass-produced. And while graphene has been exciting scientists and chip developers for a while, it's always been tricky to make.
Now, though, scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research report that they've developed a very simple procedure for making graphene on the cheap.
They describe growing high-quality graphene on the surface of commercially available silicon carbide wafers to produce material with excellent electronic properties.
Victor Aristov and his team successfully synthesized graphene on commercially available cubic SiC/Si substrates of less than 300mm in diameter - something that's never been done before.
The result is graphene flakes electronically decoupled from the substrate - crucial to preserve graphene's almost magical properties. Graphene has been touted as a top candidate to take over from silicon in future electronic devices from phones to supercomputers.
"Contrary to common belief, we succeeded in growing high-quality graphene on cubic β-SiC and found that the interaction with the substrate is almost negligible, rendering this system a perfect candidate for future graphene-based electronics," say the authors.
Previous methods of producing graphene have been cumbersome and expensive. They've resulted in poor-quality graphene, and simply haven't been practical for industrial scale applications.
"We demonstrated for the first time the feasibility of graphene synthesis on cubic β-SiC," say the authors.
"A very simple procedure for obtaining graphene on the cheap, commercially available β-SiC/Si wafers of large diameters represents a huge step toward technological application of this material as the synthesis is compatible with industrial mass production," say the authors.
Their study appears in ACS' Nano Letters.