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Test & measurement


Terahertz imaging of graphene paves the way to industrialisation


Graphene Flagship researchers have developed a new measurement standard for the analysis of graphene and layered materials that could accelerate production and optimise device fabrication.


humans without surgery. Similarly, terahertz spectroscopy penetrates graphene films allowing scientists to make detailed maps of their electrical quality, without damaging or contaminating the material. The Graphene Flagship brought together researchers from academia and industry to develop and mature this analytical technique, and now a novel measurement tool for graphene characterisation is ready. The effor t was possible thanks to the


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collaborative environment enabled by the Graphene Flagship European consor tium, with par ticipation by scientists from Graphene Flagship par tners DTU, Denmark, IIT, Italy, Aalto University, Finland, AIXTRON, UK, imec, Belgium, Graphenea, Spain, Warsaw University, Poland, and Thales R&T, France, as well as collaborators in China, Korea and the US. Graphene is often ‘sandwiched’


between many different layers and materials to be used in electronic and photonic devices. This complicates the process of quality assessment. Teraher tz spectroscopy makes things easier. It images the encapsulated materials and reveals the quality of the graphene underneath, exposing imperfections at critical points in the fabrication process. It is a fast, non-destructive technology that probes the electrical proper ties of graphene and layered materials, with no need for direct contact. The development of characterisation


techniques like teraher tz spectroscopy is fundamental to accelerating large- scale production, as they guarantee that graphene-enabled devices are made consistently and predictably, without flaws. Quality control precedes trust. Thanks to other developments pioneered by the Graphene Flagship, such as roll-to-roll production of graphene and layered materials, fabrication technology is ready to take the next step. Teraher tz spectroscopy allows us to ramp up


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-ray scans revolutionised medical treatments by allowing us to see inside


graphene production without losing sight of the quality. “This is the technique we needed to


match the high-throughput production levels enabled by the Graphene Flagship,” explains Peter Bøggild from Graphene Flagship par tner DTU. “We are confident that teraher tz spectroscopy in graphene manufacturing will become as routine as X-ray scans in hospitals,” he adds. “In fact, thanks to teraher tz spectroscopy you can easily map even meter-scale graphene samples without touching them, which is not possible with some other state-of-the-ar t techniques.” Fur thermore, the Graphene Flagship is currently studying how to apply teraher tz spectroscopy directly into roll-to-roll graphene production lines, and speed up the imaging. Collaboration was key to this


achievement. Graphene Flagship researchers in academic institutions worked closely with leading graphene manufacturers such as Graphene Flagship par tners AIXTRON, Graphenea and IMEC. “This is the best way to ensure that our solution is relevant to our end-users, companies that make graphene and layered materials on industrial scales,” says Bøggild. “Our publication is a comprehensive case study that highlights the versatility and reliability of teraher tz spectroscopy for quality control, and should guide our colleagues in applying the technique to many industrially relevant substrates such silicon, sapphire, silicon carbide and polymers.” Setting standards is an impor tant


step for the development of any new material, to ensure it is safe, genuine and will offer a performance that is both reliable and consistent. That is why the Graphene Flagship has a dedicated work-group focused on the standardisation of graphene, measurement and analytical techniques and manufacturing processes. The newly developed method for teraher tz spectroscopy is on track to become a standard technical specification, thanks


April 2021 Instrumentation Monthly


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