RWTH Aachen Participates in European Large-Scale Project to Bring a New Material to Market

28/01/2013

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Graphene, the two-dimensional form of carbon, is considered one of the most promising materials for future IT applications. This is due to the material's special properties: it is almost as hard and durable as diamond, but can be stretched like rubber. It outperforms copper as a conductor of heat and silicon as a conductor of electricity. It is virtually invisible, as it is composed of a single layer of carbon atoms. It is chemically resilient, impermeable to most substances, and based on carbon, a readily available material.  

 

By now, graphene can be produced in large quantities, and possible applications are beginning to be developed: the material may be used as an “electronic ink” to produce electronic circuits, or provide the basis for foldable cell phone displays or lighter, enhanced tennis rackets. Planned are new ultra-fast transistors, superfast optocouplers, as well as new concepts for quickly rechargeable batteries, the sequencing of DNA strands, and even water desalination facilties.

Contributions from Aachen

The EU-supported FET Flagship program “Graphene,” which is expected to receive funding in the amount of one billion Euros over a ten-year period, seeks to help turn several of these envisioned applications into reality. Now 74 institutions from academia and industry from 17 European nations have joined forces to establish international working groups for various research projects.

In the first funding phase, RWTH Aachen as a partner receives 1.44 percent of the funding sum, that is about 1.034 million Euros. AMO GmbH, an Aachen company with close ties to the University that specializes in micro and opto electronics, receives 0.88 million Euros. This makes Aachen the largest partner of the research consortium in Germany.

We are very pleased that the EU is willing to invest substantially in this promising material, graphene, at this early stage, and that Aachen is a strong partner in the project.

Professor Markus Morgenstern, Head of the II. Institute of Physics B at RWTH Aachen.

In the large-scale project, Professor Markus Morgenstern will thoroughly investigate graphene and its defects at the atomic scale. Junior Professor Christoph Stampfer and Dr. Bernd Beschoten, both from the II. Institute of Physics B, will investigate the possibility of using graphene for the transport of magnetic information in a spintronics paradigm, which promises a more energy-efficient information processing than conventional technologies. As Professor Stampfer explains: “First and foremost we study the basics of charge transport via graphene nano structures, and we investigate spin-based nano-electronic components which have potential for applications in quantum information technology.”

Junior Professor Renato Negra from the UMIC Research Center seeks to develop graphene applications in high-frequency electronics, to open up utilization in the fields of communication technology, imaging, medical engineering, and sensor technology. According to Professor Negra, “the Graphene Flagship Program gives us the excellent opportunity to collaborate with outstanding partners on the development of novel integrated high- and highest-frequency circuits.”

The UMIC Research Center at RWTH Aachen, which received funding as an Excellence Cluster in the first phase of Germany’s Excellence Initiative, conducts research on ultra high-speed mobile information and communication systems.

At RWTH Aachen, there are further graphene-related activities that receive funding from external sources, such as DFG Priority Program 1459, DFG Research Unit 912, and an ERC Starting Grant for Professor Stampfer.

Collaborative Networks in Graphene Research

Many graphene-related activities at RWTH are undertaken in cooperation with AMO GmbH, which also played a decisive role in establishing the flagship program. Another major contributing player is the JARA-FIT consortium, which provides infrastructure and facilities which make it possible to conduct the complex research on graphene.

The close collaboration with Forschungszentrum Jülich in the context of JARA made it possible to recruit Junior Professor Stampfer to Aachen in the first place. In the future, the Aachen researchers will collaborate with scientists from all over Europe to bring graphene-based applications to market.

Contacts

Prof. Dr. Christoph Stampfer, II. Institut of Physics, RWTH Aachen University, Tel. +49 241 80 27094, E-Mail stampfer@physik.rwth-aachen.de,

Prof. Dr. Markus Morgenstern, II. Institut of Physics, RWTH Aachen University, Tel. +49 241 80 27076, E-Mail mmorgens@physik.rwth-aachen.de

Prof. Dr. Renato Negra, Junior Professor for Mixed-Signal CMOS Circuits, Tel. +49 241 80 20642, E-Mail negra@umic.rwth-aachen.de

 

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