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  • By: Letizia Diamante
  • Graphene Flagship
  • Publishing date: 30 December 2021
  • By: Letizia Diamante
  • Graphene Flagship
  • Publishing date: 30 December 2021

Our partnering division fosters collaboration across institutions

The Graphene Flagship has catalysed research and innovation in the realm of graphene and layered materials since the very beginning. Covering both fundamental and applied science, the consortium nourishes a diverse and multidisciplinary environment with more than 250 organisations all over Europe.

Among them are the Graphene Flagship’s 100 Associated Members and 31 Partnering Projects, all participating in the Partnering Division. These represent one of the most fruitful endeavours of the Graphene Flagship, and expand our collaborative ecosystem by building a wider network of research facilities and experts.

Our Associated Members are a cohort of academic institutions, SMEs and industrial collaborators affiliated with the Graphene Flagship, all with tremendous potential for innovation in the field of graphene and layered materials. Furthermore, our partnering projects, are initiatives funded by the European Union and Member States – often through the FLAG-ERA consortium – that team up with the Graphene Flagship, enabling cross-collaboration and promoting original discoveries.

“The Partnership Division plays an ever-increasing role in the evolution of the Graphene Flagship, from fundamental research to innovation, with unprecedented potential. It facilitates the building of a European network of facilities and experts in the field of graphene and layered materials,” explains Partnering Division Leader Yuri Svirko, from Graphene Flagship Associated Member the University of Eastern Finland.

In this article, learn about the science behind a handful of our partnering projects and Associated Members, all belonging to the Graphene Flagship’s Partnering Division.


A new and improved way to make graphene oxide

Using its patented plasma process, Haydale Graphene Industries produced graphene oxide with a functionalisation level of 28% atomic percent oxygen: comparable to wet chemical methods and suitable for the existing graphene oxide market.

Making graphene oxide using wet chemistry methods is labour and time-intensive, and involves environmentally hazardous by-products and unstable intermediates. To the contrary, Haydale’s process needs no solvents or harsh chemical treatments. Moreover, their technology is scalable, single-stage, dry and environmentally friendly. Their new system also applies to hydrophilic, hydrophobic, carboxylic, amine and oxidative modifications with the same environmentally friendly and scalable process. 


Integrating graphene and layered materials into insulators for semiconductor manufacturing

Insulating materials with high dielectric constants are in demand for semiconductor manufacturing processes. Integrating graphene and layered materials like transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) is important for several next-genera­tion electronics and sensing devices.

Funded by FLAG-ERA, ETMOS is a Graphene Flagship partner­ing project with a mission to deposit epitaxial graphene and TMDs onto wide-bandgap hexagonal semiconductors. To do this, they used a method called atomic layer deposition, adding aluminium oxide layer-by-layer on top of epitaxial graphene. This is one of the best methods to obtain high-quality, ultra-thin insulators that are uniform over a large area.

The team successfully obtained uniform and ultra-thin aluminium oxide films atop epitaxial graphene with no pre-functionalisation. They expect this will lead to new graphene-based applications in electronic devices and sensors.


A graphene-based magnetic field sensor for advanced position detection

Graphensic created a graphene Hall sensor using epitaxial graphene to detect magnetic fields, outputting an analogue signal proportional to the intensity of the field. Their device will be useful for various applications that require high performance position detection, like autonomous driving.

Their sensors are 10 times more sensitive to magnetic fields than conventional silicon-based Hall sensors. They also detect magnetic fields with record-low detection limits compared to semiconductors, and all other graphene-based Hall magnetic field sensors, up to 150 °C. Using epitaxial graphene makes the production process scalable, and the results show that Hall sensors based on epitaxial graphene outperform existing Hall sensors between -55 °C and 125 °C.



Making graphene-filled ceramic sandwiches by hot-pressing

Researchers working on the FLAG-ERA-funded CERANEA partnering project are developing graphene multilayer ceramic sandwich composites, a type of ceramic material filled with graphene, using a process called hot isostatic pressing. The structure features two alternating layers, like a sandwich: one layer contains porous silicon nitride and 30% graphene by weight, while the other contains densified silicon nitride and only 5% graphene by weight. Incorporating graphene into ceramic structures in this way increases their durability and conductivity.

The team also studied ceramics based on silicon nitride and zirconia with varying amounts of multi-layered graphene. Through their studies, they identified the optimal graphene, silicon nitride and zirconia ‘sandwich’ – a layer of 30% multilay­er graphene (MLG) by weight sandwiched between two layers of just 5% MLG. This configuration resulted in a two-to-three-fold improvement in the mechanical properties, compared to the opposite ratio.


Graphene-based membranes for filtration, sensing and more

The GATES partnering project, also funded by FLAG-ERA, developed a new graphene-based membrane for gas filtration, sensing devices and microelectromechanical systems. Their filter is based on graphene made by chemical vapour deposi­tion, suspended above holes in a silicon substrate, and now they have applied to patent their technology.

Using their method, the GATES scientists can effectively fabricate large areas of their membrane. It is also compatible with batch fabrication, meaning they can make several devices in parallel at the wafer scale using technologies compatible with the semiconductor industry.


A step towards graphene spintronics

Graphene-enabled spin logic devices could surpass Moore’s law predictions and shape the future of computing, thanks to their enhanced ability to store information. Researchers working on the FLAG-ERA-funded SOgraphMEM project demonstrated that graphene, coupled with ferromagnets

and heavy metals, meets all the requirements to create spin textures. These are interesting patterns of spin polarisation that could be used as building blocks for future memory devices with long spin lifetime and propagation, even at room temperature. In particular, they modelled the formation of stable magnetic skyrmions, a hot topic in spintronics for its potential use in next-generation memory and logic devices, with a thin sheet of a ferromagnetic metal – cobalt – sandwiched between layers of heavy metal and graphene.

The team also explained how cobalt atoms penetrate through the graphene sheet to form a layer on two different heavy metal surfaces. The mechanism enables the growth of high-quality, flat cobalt layers with tailored magnetic properties. This results in a trilayered structure that allows graphene’s structural and electronic properties to be tuned for the development of graphene spintronics.

Author bio

Letizia Diamante
Letizia Diamante

Science Writer and Coordinator of the 'Diversity in Graphene' initiative.