Almost three years ago, researchers at the University of Exeter in the UK developed a hybrid material that had molecules of ferric chloride sandwiched between two layers of graphene. The new material had better conductivity than graphene on its own. The researchers dubbed their creation GraphExeter.
Now the team at Exeter has announced that GraphExeter is resistant to both high temperatures and humidity.
This resistance to heat came as a surprise to the researchers because the molecules in the material on their own actually melt in air at room temperature.
"By demonstrating its stability to being exposed to both high temperatures and humidity, we have shown that it is a practical and realistic alternative to indium tin oxide (ITO),” said Monica Craciun, University of Exeter engineer and lead researcher, in a press release. “This is particularly exciting for the solar panel industry, where the ability to withstand all weathers is crucial."
In research published in the journal Scientific Reports, GraphExeter was able to withstand 100 percent humidity at room temperature for 25 days and survive in temperatures of 150 degrees Celsius at atmosphere and 620 degrees Celsius in a vacuum.
"Having a metallic conductor stable at temperatures above 600°C, that is also optically transparent and flexible, can truly enable novel technologies for space applications and harsh environments such as nuclear power centrals," said Saverio Russo, a researcher at Exeter, in the press release.
Despite the material’s potential for applications in space and the harsh environments found in nuclear power plants, the researchers have remained fairly consistent over the last three years that GraphExeter is attractive for photovoltaic applications as well as an alternative to ITO as for transparent conducting electrodes in displays.
With the growing number of nanomaterial approaches to replacing ITO, it’s hard to make a bet on just one of them proving successful over the others. However, by reducing graphene’s sheet resistance, which limits its conductivity, GraphExeter does hold promise in general in the field of flexible electronics.