09 March 2016

Graphene: changing the world with 2D photonics

In existing technologies, 2D technologies can be introduced
into products such as silicon electronics, semiconductor
nanoparticles, plastics and more for added new
functionality; above; a flexible 2d prototype sensor.
Graphene, anticipated as the next "killer" app to hit optical sensing, is expected to offer an all-in-one solution to the challenges of future optoelectronic technologies, says Frank Koppens. A professor at the Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO) in Barcelona, Koppens leads the institute's Quantum Nano-Optoelectronics Group.

Koppens, along with Nathalie Vermeulen of B-PHOT (Brussels Photonics Team, Vrije Universiteit Brussel), will lead a daylong workshop in Brussels on 5 April on transitioning graphene-based photonics technology from research to commercialization.

In his article on Light and Graphene in the current issue of SPIE Professional magazine, Koppens describes the 2D material's tunable optical properties, broadband absorption (from UV to THz), high electrical mobility for ultrafast operation, and novel gate-tunable plasmonic properties.

Two-dimensional materials-based photodetectors are among the most mature and promising solutions, Koppens notes. Potential applications include expanded communications networking and data storage, increased computing speeds, enhanced disease control utilizing increasingly larger and more complex data sets, and more accurate fire, motion, chemical, and other sensor systems including the next generation of wearables.

Graphene is gapless, absorbing light in the ultraviolet, visible, short-wave infrared, near-infrared, mid-infrared, far-infrared, and terahertz spectral regimes. A few of many advantages include:
  • Ability to be monolithically integrated with silicon electronics
  • Extremely fast -- exceeding 250GHz -- as a material-based photodetector
  • Able to bend, stretch, and roll while maintaining useful properties
  • Low-cost production with potential to integrate on thin, transparent, flexible substrates
  • Potential to be competitive against alternate applications in health, safety, security and automotive systems.

Koppens notes that the €1 billion European Union Graphene Flagship program is aiming to work through academia and industry to bring graphene into society within the next 10 years.

For more, read the complete article in the SPIE Professional, and watch Koppens' SPIE Newsroom video interview [7:09] on manipulating light with graphene.