Graphene races CNT for nanomaterial commercialization

September 28, 2011 — Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have failed to meet commercial expectations set a decade ago, and another carbon nano material, graphene, is being considered a viable candidate in the same applications: computers, displays, photovoltaics (PV), and flexible electronics. CNT and graphene transistors may be available commercially starting in 2015, according IDTechEx’s report, "Carbon Nanotubes and Graphene for Electronics Applications 2011-2021".

Printed and potentially printed electronics represent the biggest available market for these transistors: the value of devices incorporating CNT and/or graphene will top $44 billion in 2021.

Graphene materials have become commercially available in a short time, prompting application development and processing advances, notes Cathleen Thiele, technology analyst, IDTechEx. Graphene is a fraction of the weight and cost of CNTs, and could supplant it, as well as indium tin oxide (ITO) in some applications. Graphene has no band gap, and therefore must be modified (stacking layers of graphene in certain patterns, for example) to act as an electronic switch.

OLED and flexible PV cells will make up a $25 billion market in 2021, says Thiele, and some of these products will use graphene combined with other flexible, transparent electronic components

Graphene-based transistors are demonstrating high performance and lower cost, thanks to new graphene production methods. Graphene transistors are a potential successor to certain silicon components; an electron can move faster through graphene than through silicon. Tetrahertz computing is a possible application.

CNTs are still a strong research area, Thiele notes. They can be used in transistors and conductive layers in touch screens, and as a replacement for iTO. The cost of CNTs is dropping from prohibitively high levels seen a few years ago. Chemical companies are ramping manufacturing capacity. Carbon nanotubes face challenges related to separation and consistent growth. Electronics applications require CNTs of the same size, as size affects CNT properties.

For more information on “Carbon Nanotubes and Graphene for Electronics Applications 2011-2021,” contact: Raoul Escobar-Franco at [email protected], +1 617 577 7890 (USA), or visit

Printable CNT inks and graphene-based inks are beginning to hit the printed electronics market. IDTechEx will host the Printed Electronics & Photovoltaics USA conference & exhibition in Santa Clara, CA, November 30-December 1,, with talks on both nanomaterials.

Dr Narayan Hosmane from Northern Illinois University will share how he almost by accident produced high-yields of graphene instead of the expected single-wall carbon nanotubes using the Dry-Ice Method. He will discuss synthetic methodologies for producing large volumes of graphene.

Kate Duncan from CERDEC, the U.S. Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, will present on direct write approaches to nanoscale electronics.

Prof Yang Yang, head of the Yang Group at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), will give a brief summary on olymer solar cells and UCLA developments with G-CNTs, a hybrid graphene-carbon nanotube material.

Dr Sanjay Monie, Vorbeck Materials, will give the latest R&D news on the Vor-ink line of conductive graphene inks and coatings for the printed electronics industry.

Carbon nanotubes:
Stephen Turner, Brewer Science, will talk about Aromatic Hydrocarbon Functionalization of carbon nanotubes for conductive applications. Brewer Science’s CNTRENE carbon nanotube material was developed for semiconductor, advanced packaging/3-D IC, MEMS, display, LED, and printed electronics applications.

Dr Philip Wallis, SWeNT, will discuss proprietary V2V ink technology and how SWeNT fabricates and tests TFT devices.

Dr Jamie Nova, Applied Nanotech (ANI), will cover CNT field emission.


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