Bursting through the Silicon Barrier: Developing Carbon-based Nanoelectronics with Graphene

On the road towards creating smaller and smaller electronic  devices, silicon blocks the way by limiting the smallness of the electronic  components that can be constructed with it.   A promising way forward has been found by using carbon instead and its study  has resulted in a rapidly growing field.   In a work published in ACS Nano, using tools including those found at  the Synchrotron Radiation Center, scientists have developed a process for making  a never-before-seen, atomically thin, composite material containing ordered  layers of graphene and nanocrystals of graphene monoxide.

Graphene, composed of an atomically thin layer of carbon, does not  by itself have the necessary properties that lend itself for use in modern  nanoelectronics.  To achieve this, other  elements need to be added to the mix.  When  oxygen is added chemically to graphene, for example, a property called the band-gap  is created.  The band-gap determines the  electrical conductivity of a material, an important factor in creating useful  electronic devices.  However, at this  stage, the mix is a disorganized arrangement of atoms, and results in poor  electronic properties, including the band-gap. Because of this it can only be  used in basic electronic devices such as supercapacitors, sensors, and flexible  transparent conductive electrodes.

In this publication researchers describe a method for annealing  (heating) the graphene and oxygen mix resulting in a previously unobserved  atomic structure.  It is comprised of  layers of oxygen poor graphene sandwiched between layers of oxygen rich graphene  (graphene oxide).

In the image, the number of rings  corresponds to the complexity of the different structures in the Graphene-Oxide  (G-O) compound.  The left side of the  image corresponds to the G-O compound before annealing (heating).  The right side of the image, corresponding to  the compound after annealing, shows additional rings indicating a more complex  and ordered structure.

Scientists determined that the new carbon based structure shows  promise allowing them to tailor it creating, for example, ideal “band gaps” for  use in nanoelectronic devices such as sensors, transistors, and optoelectronic  devices.

This work was published in the journal ACS Nano by SRC Users Eric Mattson (lead author), Michael Nasse, and Carol Hirschmugl.  Additional members of the scientific team  included faculty and students from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and  the University of Texas at Austin.  This  paper can be found online at: http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nn203160n

SouthWest NanoTechnologies to Showcase New Carbon Nanotube Products at MRS 2012

SouthWest NanoTechnologies Inc., a leading developer of high quality carbon nanotubes, will be exhibiting new Carbon Nanotube products at the 2012 Materials Research Society (MRS) Fall Meeting & Exhibit, November 27-29, in booth 1116 at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston.

November 27, 2012

SWeNT will feature Single-Wall Carbon Nanotube (SWCNT) SG65i, developed for use in printed semiconductor devices. SG65i is produced using the patented CoMoCAT® process, widely recognized for its unique ability to control SWCNT chirality. SWeNT will also feature SMW210, a new grade in its SMW™ line of Specialty Multi-Wall CNT.

SG65i is an advancement on SG65, recognized for its high concentration of semiconducting species. For SG65i ≥ 95% of the CNT are semiconducting in nature. This enables a wide range of printed electronics applications, requiring little or no additional processing to fabricate printed TFTs, for example.

SMW210 and its highly purified sister product, SMW200, have demonstrated the greatest ease of dispersion and lowest percolation threshold of any MWCNT product in multiple customer thermoplastic compound evaluations. This enables ESD (electrostatic discharge) performance at lower filler loadings than either Carbon Black or other Multi-wall CNT, in a variety of polymers. This low percolation threshold minimizes the degradation of physical properties of the polymer, a common problem in heavily loaded compounds, and higher conductivity at comparable loading broadens the range of applications for conductive polymer compounds.

Because certain post-synthesis processes are not needed for SMW210, the pricing is much lower. SMW210 has a hybrid structure with metal-oxide particles attached to the CNT, improving dispersion still further, at a much lower cost than SMW200. In thermoplastic compounds, there is little performance difference between SMW200 and SMW210 with respect to ease of dispersion, conductivity and percolation, with most customers for conductive polymers choosing SMW210 due to economic benefits.

SMW200 has also been demonstrated as a Carbon Black replacement in Lithium Ion battery cathodes. Very low loadings (1 wt %) of SWM200 have resulted in doubled cycle life, higher capacity, lower heat build-up and better low temperature performance.

Oerlikon completes the sale of its solar segment to Tokyo Electron

(Nanowerk News) Oerlikon announces the closing of the  sale of its Solar business to Tokyo Electron Ltd. (TEL). The contract to divest  the Solar business was signed on March 2, 2012. The transaction was structured  as a cash deal in which TEL acquires 100 % of the shares of Oerlikon Solar and  closed in line with the original expectations of the signed agreement resulting  in cash proceeds for Oerlikon amounting to CHF 250 million.

“The closing of this transaction marks another important step in  the optimization of our business portfolio. TEL, as a strategic buyer and  leading supplier of semiconductor production equipment, is well suited to  utilize the advantages of the thin film silicon solar technology in a  sustainable and successful manner”, said Dr. Michael Buscher, CEO of the  Oerlikon Group.

Hiroshi Takenaka, President and CEO of TEL, commented, “We can  look forward to further growth in demand for thin-film silicon photovoltaic  panels, particularly for large-scale power generation, as a result of their  superiority in actual energy generation in regions with abundant sunlight and  the cost advantages. Oerlikon Solar has world-leading technology in this field  relating to conversion efficiency and manufacturing costs. By combining its  technologies with the advanced technologies that TEL has nurtured in the  semiconductor production equipment business, we will be able to develop more  competitive devices. This acquisition is an undertaking intended to establish  the photovoltaic panel (PV) production equipment business as a new core business  that will support TEL’s growth strategy.”

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Installed price of solar photovoltaic systems in the U.S. continues to decline at a rapid pace

(Nanowerk News) The installed price of solar  photovoltaic (PV) power systems in the United States fell substantially in 2011  and through the first half of 2012, according to the latest edition of Tracking the Sun (“Tracking the Sun V: An Historical Summary of the Installed Price  of Photovoltaics in the United States from 1998 to 201”; pdf), an annual PV  cost-tracking report produced by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley  National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).
The  median installed price of residential and commercial PV systems completed in  2011 fell by roughly 11 to 14 percent from the year before, depending on system  size, and, in California, prices fell by an additional 3 to 7 percent within the  first six months of 2012. These recent installed price reductions are  attributable, in large part, to dramatic reductions in PV module prices, which  have been falling precipitously since 2008.

The  report indicates that non-module costs—such as installation labor, marketing,  overhead, inverters, and the balance of systems—have also fallen significantly  over time.  “The drop in non-module costs is especially important,” notes report  co-author Ryan Wiser of Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies  Division, “as these costs can be most readily influenced by local, state, and  national policies aimed at accelerating deployment and removing market  barriers.” According to the report, average non-module costs for residential and  commercial systems declined by roughly 30 percent from 1998 to 2011, but have  not declined as rapidly as module prices in recent years. As a result,  non-module costs now represent a sizable fraction of the installed price of PV  systems, and continued deep reduction in the price of PV will require concerted  emphasis on lowering the portion of non-module costs associated with so-called “business process” or “soft” costs.

The report indicates that the median installed price of PV  systems installed in 2011 was $6.10 per watt (W) for residential and small  commercial systems smaller than 10 kilowatts (kW) in size and was $4.90/W for  larger commercial systems of 100 kW or more in size.  Utility-sector PV systems  larger than 2,000 kW in size averaged $3.40/W in 2011.  Report co-author Galen  Barbose, also of Berkeley Lab, stresses the importance of keeping these numbers  in context, noting that “these data provide a reliable benchmark for systems  installed in the recent past, but prices have continued to decline over time,  and PV systems being sold today are being offered at lower prices.”

Based on these data and on installed price data from other major  international PV markets, the authors suggest that PV prices in the United  States may be driven lower through large-scale deployment programs, but that  other factors are also important in achieving installed price reductions.

The market for solar PV systems in the United States has grown  rapidly over the past decade, as national, state and local governments offered  various incentives to expand the solar market and accelerate cost reductions.   This fifth edition in Berkeley Lab’s Tracking the Sun report series  describes historical trends in the installed price of PV in the United States,  and examines more than 150,000 residential, commercial, and utility-sector PV  systems installed between 1998 and 2011 across 27 states, representing roughly  76 percent of all grid-connected PV capacity installed in the United States.  Naïm Darghouth, also with Berkeley Lab, explains that “the study is intended to  provide policy makers and industry observers with a reliable and detailed set of  historical benchmarks for tracking and understanding past trends in the  installed price of PV.”

Prices Differ by Region and by Size and Type of  SystemThe study also highlights the significant variability in PV  system pricing, some of which is associated with differences in installed prices  by region and by system size and installation type. Comparing across U.S.  states, for example, the median installed price of PV systems less than 10 kW in  size that were completed in 2011 and ranged from $4.90/W to $7.60/W, depending  on the state.

It also shows that PV installed prices exhibit significant  economies of scale. Among systems installed in 2011, the median price for  systems smaller than 2 kW was $7.70/W, while the median price for large  commercial systems greater than 1,000 kW in size was $4.50/W.  Utility-scale  systems installed in 2011 registered even lower prices, with most systems larger  than 10,000 kW ranging from $2.80/W to $3.50/W.s

The report also finds that the installed price of residential PV  systems on new homes has generally been significantly lower than the price of  similarly sized systems installed as retrofits to existing homes, that building  integrated PV systems have generally been higher priced than rack-mounted  systems, and that systems installed on tax-exempt customer sites have generally  been priced higher than those installed at residential and for-profit commercial  customer sites.

Price Declines for PV System Owners in 2011 Were Offset  by Falling IncentivesState agencies and utilities in many regions offer rebates or  other forms of cash incentives for residential and commercial PV systems.   According to the report, the median pre-tax value of such cash incentives ranged  from $0.90/W to $1.20/W for systems installed in 2011, depending on system size.   These incentives have declined significantly over time, falling by roughly 80  percent over the past decade, and by 21 percent to 43 percent from just 2010 to  2011.  Rather than a direct cash incentive, some states with renewables  portfolio standards provide financial incentives for solar PV by creating a  market for solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs), and SREC prices have  also fallen dramatically in recent years.  These declines in cash incentives and  SREC prices have, to a significant degree, offset recent installed price  reductions, dampening any overall improvement in the customer economics of solar  PV.

In conjunction with this report, LBNL and the National Renewable  Energy Laboratory (NREL) have also issued a jointly authored summary report that  provides a high-level overview of historical, recent, and projected near-term PV  pricing trends in the United States.  That report summarizes findings on  historical price trends from LBNL’s Tracking the Sun V, along with several  ongoing NREL research activities to benchmark recent and current PV prices and  to track industry projections for near-term PV pricing trends.  The summary  report documents further installed price reductions for systems installed and  quoted in 2012.

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Samsung displays devices with screens that bend and fold

Galaxy SkinSamsung Galaxy Skin was displayed with a flexible screen

Samsung is pushing the envelope in new areas of smartphone design, as it displayed devices with screens that bend. Samsung Galaxy Skin is reported to feature a flexible AMOLED, which uses a plastic polymer instead of glass. The new range of Samsung’s flexible phones will come in handy for clumsy hands as the device is reported to survive falls and blows.

The devices with flexible screens from Samsung are reported to be in the last phase of development and are rumoured to be released in the first half of next year. The flexibility of the screen is a result of the use of organic light emitting diodes (OLEDs), which are thin and can be applied on flexible material, like plastic or metal foil.

Samsung is not the only company which has tried to create something unique like the flexible screens as companies like Japan’s Sony and South Korea’s LG Display have launched prototypes of the flexible screens. Samsung had previously promised flexible displays this year, but the date has passed with no confirmation from the South Korean manufacturer.


The prototypes of the flexible devices were displayed at the 2012 Plastics show in Birmingham this week. With the flexible devices, Samsung might be looking to create a unique pedestal for the South Korean company and the bendy devices might prove to be the factor, which pushes Samsung ahead.

Lee Chang-hoon, Vice President of Samsung’s display division, told the Journal that the South Korean company has sent out samples of the new displays to a few select customers.

Samsung Galaxy S4 rumours predict launch in January 2013
Galaxy S3 ousts iPhone 4S, becomes world’s best-selling smartphone in Q3 2012
Samsung Galaxy S3 64GB variant now available for pre-order in UK at £600

Galaxy Skin

Nanosys Closes Sixth Funding Round: $15M New Investment to expand quantum dot manufacturing

nanosys Series F-01 Palo Alto, Calif., November 26, 2012 – Nanosys Inc., an advanced materials architect, today closed a $15 million sixth round of funding. The company will use the new investment to expand its quantum dot manufacturing capabilities. Nanosys’ flagship quantum dot product is Quantum Dot Enhancement Film™ (QDEF), which vastly improves the color performance and efficiency of Liquid Crystal Displays (LCDs).

“You’ve never seen anything like a quantum dot display,” said Jason Hartlove, President and CEO of Nanosys. “We are working with display makers to create a new high color gamut display experience that is cheaper, more efficient and more reliable than anything else currently on the market. The response from manufacturers so far has been great and demand for QDEF has grown to the point that we’ll need to expand manufacturing to keep up.”

Nanosys will expand its quantum dot manufacturing line more than tenfold in order to meet increasing demand. The expansion will make Nanosys the largest quantum dot manufacturer in the world.

Most current LCDs are only capable of displaying 35 percent or less of the visible color spectrum. This means the viewing experience on an LCD is limited and vastly different from what is seen in the real world, as colors are altered or left out altogether. Wide color gamut displays make the viewing experience on an electronic device much closer to the vibrant visual experience of real life. An LCD powered by QDEF can display 50 percent or more color than a standard LCD. QDEF also provides a significant energy efficiency advantage over other LCD backlight technologies.

QDEF utilizes the light emitting properties of quantum dots to create an ideal backlight for LCDs, which is one of the most critical factors in the color and efficiency performance of the display. A quantum dot, which is 10,000 times narrower than a human hair, can be engineered to emit light at very precise wavelengths. QDEF relies on this unique ability to control the spectral output of a quantum dot to create an ideal white backlight specifically designed for LCDs. Trillions of custom engineered quantum dots are loaded into each sheet of QDEF, which fits inside an LCD backlight unit. The new film replaces one already found inside the LCD backlight, which means the manufacturing process requires no new equipment or process changes for the LCD manufacturer.

Nanosys Contact:
Daniel Klempay
(650) 762-2948

About Nanosys, Inc.
Nanosys, Inc. is an advanced material architect, harnessing the fundamental properties of inorganic materials into process ready systems that can integrate into existing manufacturing to produce vastly superior products in lighting, electronic displays and energy storage. For more information, visitwww.nanosysinc.com.

nanosys Series F-01

Genesis Nanotechnology

Note To Readers: The Full Report is available to subscription holders of “LuxReserch”: https://portal.luxresearchinc.com/public_reports

In an additional note: We have learned that Lux will be interviewing one of the presenters at the “International Printed Electronics Conference (December 5, 2012)  an Advanced Materials/ Emerging Nano-Technology company we have been following for the last 3 years. Please see LuxResearch’s remarks, quote Lux Research analyzed every dollar by the technology into which it was invested to understand how investors’ views on these areas have evolved, and further analyzed $4.9 billion in exits to see where VCs are profiting” at the end of this article.  Cheers!  – BWH –

September 2012 | State of the Market Report

Printed electronics promises the ability to manufacture devices through low-cost, high-throughput manufacturing. However, to realize this potential, it requires the right materials and inks. We focus on three materials areas – opaque conductive inks and pastes, transparent…

View original post 364 more words

Inking Money: The Prospects for Materials in Printed Electronics

Note To Readers: The Full Report is available to subscription holders of “LuxReserch”: https://portal.luxresearchinc.com/public_reports

In an additional note: We have learned that Lux will be interviewing one of the presenters at the “International Printed Electronics Conference (December 5, 2012)  an Advanced Materials/ Emerging Nano-Technology company we have been following for the last 3 years. Please see LuxResearch’s remarks, quote Lux Research analyzed every dollar by the technology into which it was invested to understand how investors’ views on these areas have evolved, and further analyzed $4.9 billion in exits to see where VCs are profiting” at the end of this article.  Cheers!  – BWH –

September 2012 | State of the Market Report

Printed electronics promises the ability to manufacture devices through low-cost, high-throughput manufacturing. However, to realize this potential, it requires the right materials and inks. We focus on three materials areas – opaque conductive inks and pastes, transparent conductors, and semiconductors, presenting a total opportunity of $2.6 billion in 2017. Opaque conductive inks will grow to $2.4 billion in 2017, with medical and RFID among the fastest-growing segments. However, silver paste will still dominate, and other materials will only find traction in solar applications. ITO replacement transparent conductive films will grow to $705 million, with $112 million coming from the inks, but the majority of this market will come from a single application, smartphone touch screens, leading to a wide range of potential growth scenarios. Printed semiconductors will grow to $68 million in 2017 with display applications leading the way.

    Emerging conductive ink and paste technologies face entrenched material platforms and must use technical limitations of the incumbents to grow in early markets
    Conductive inks and pastes will grow to $2.5 billion, but silver alternatives will stumble outside of solar; ITO replacements will hit $705 million and semiconductors lag at $68 million.

Lead Analyst

Jonathan Melnick, Ph.D.
+1 (617) 502-5324


Venture capitalists have invested $7.4 billion in printed, flexible, and organic electronics technologies. However, the investment landscape and guiding principles by which VCs direct their investments are shifting as some technologies become overfunded while others become gold mines. Lux Research analyzed every dollar by the technology into which it was invested to understand how investors’ views on these areas have evolved, and further analyzed $4.9 billion in exits to see where VCs are profiting. Based on this data, we identified three specific technologies which now offer the strongest opportunity for investors, and filtered out those which have been overfunded. Finally, we identified which investors are trendsetters, shaping the future of the industry, and which have mis-allocated their portfolios. This webinar will examine:

  • Investment in printed, flexible, and organic electronics technologies including displays, transparent conductive films, smart packaging, thin film batteries, and organic photovoltaics
  • Which technology families and specific technologies within those families have received the most investment, and how that investment has trended in recent years
  • Which investment strategies have been the most successful, ranking investors to determine which have allocated their investments to technologies offering the greatest opportunity

Lava dots: Rice makes hollow, soft-shelled quantum dots

Lava dots: Rice makes hollow, soft-shelled quantum dotsHOUSTON — (Nov. 19, 2012) — Serendipity proved to be a key ingredient for the latest nanoparticles discovered at Rice University. The new “lava dot” particles were discovered accidentally when researchers stumbled upon a way of using molten droplets of metal salt to make hollow, coated versions of a nanotech staple called quantum dots.

The results appear online this week in the journal Nanotechnology. The researchers also found that lava dots arrange themselves in evenly spaced patterns on flat surfaces, thanks in part to a soft outer coating that can alter its shape when the particles are tightly packed.

“We’re exploring potential of using these particles as catalysts for hydrogen production, as chemical sensors and as components in solar cells, but the main point of this paper is how we make these materials,” said co-author Michael Wong, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering at Rice. “We came up with this ‘molten-droplet synthesis’ technique and found we can use the same process to make hollow nano-size particles out of several kinds of elements. The upshot is that this discovery is about a whole family of particles rather than one specific composition.”

Like their quantum dot cousins, Rice’s lava dots can be made of semiconductors like cadmium selenide and zinc sulfide.

Wong’s lab has been working steadily to improve the synthesis of quantum dots for more than five years. In 2007, Wong’s team discovered a cleaner and cheaper way to synthesize four-legged quantum dots — particles smaller than a living cell that look like tiny versions of children’s jacks. These “nanojacks,” which are also called quantum tetrapods, can be used to harvest sunlight in a revolutionary new kind of solar panel.

The key step in the 2007 discovery was the use of a surfactant called CTAB. In 2010 Rice graduate student Sravani Gullapalli was attempting to refine the “nanojack” synthesis even further when she discovered lava dots.

“This new chemistry to make the tetrapods was fairly cheap, but we were looking for an even cheaper way,” Wong said. “Sravani said, ‘Let’s get rid of this expensive phosphorus surfactant and just see what happens.’ So she did, and these little things just popped out on the electron microscope screen.”

Wong recalled the team’s initial surprise. “We said, ‘What is going on here? How do you go from four-legged nanojacks to these little balls?'”

He said it took the team more than a year to decipher the unusual formation mechanism that yielded the hollow, soft-shelled particles.

To make the particles, Gullapalli added three kinds of solid powder — cadmium nitrate, selenium and a tiny amount of CTAB — to an oil solvent. She then slowly heated the mixture while stirring. The cadmium nitrate melted first and formed tiny nanodroplets that cannot be seen with the naked eye.

“Nothing happens until the temperature continues to rise and the selenium melts,” Gullapalli said. “The molten selenium then wraps around the cadmium nitrate droplet, and the cadmium nitrate diffuses out and leaves a hole where the droplet once was.”

She said the cadmium selenide shell surrounding the hole is nanocrystalline and is enveloped in a soft outer shell of pure selenium.

When Gullapalli examined the lava dots with a transmission electron microscope, she found them to be bigger than standard quantum dots, about 15-20 nanometers in diameter. The holes were about 4-5 nanometers in diameter. She also noticed something peculiar: When sitting by themselves they appeared round, and when tightly packed, the shell appeared to become compressed, even though neighboring dots never came into actual contact with one another.

“That’s one of the twists to this weird chemistry,” Wong said. “The solvent forms its own surfactant during this process. The surfactant coats the particles and keeps them from touching each other, even when they are tightly packed together.”

This shows what Rice University scientists discovered.

(Photo Credit: S. Gullapalli/Rice University)

Wong’s team later found it could use the molten droplet method to make lava dots out of zinc sulfide, cadmium sulfide and zinc selenide.

“We found that the hollow particles met and even exceeded some performance metrics of quantum dots in a solar-cell test device, and we’re continuing to examine how these might be useful,” Gullapalli said.


When sitting by themselves, lava dots appear round, but their soft outer shells flatten when they are packed near one another.

(Photo Credit: S. Gullapalli/Rice University)

What Nano-Science can do to Change our Future for the Better:

Heiner Linke

Heiner Linke is a Professor of Nanophysics and the Deputy Director of the Nanometer Structure Consortium at Lund university. Heiner is talking about the possibilities of nano-science to confront future challenges such as energy conservation and environmentally friendly energy production.