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Grolltex Ships ‘World’s Smallest Graphene Strain Sensor’ to Large European Partner

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Tuesday, May 14, 2019
Grolltex, has shipped the first version of its patented single atom thick strain sensor to a large European sensor maker partner. The company calls this sensor device, ‘the smallest, most sensitive sensor in the world’ as the base sensing material is only one atom thick and the sensor performance is such that it is capable of measuring the contractive strength of individual heart cells called ‘cardiomyocytes’, providing an important parameter on heart cell health.

“Our strain sensor is very versatile because it is small, flexible, robust and with a gauge factor of up to 1300, it is incredibly sensitive. This means it can be used in a wide variety of applications”, said Jeff Draa, Grolltex CEO. “For example, it can be layered into the skins of airplanes to sense micro stress in the fuselage or be used as a wearable blood pressure monitor in a skin patch configuration. The prototype we delivered to our European partner was designed to measure any environmental pressure or strain that a silicon microchip might experience while sitting in its packaging. This can be important information for many defense or autonomous vehicle related device designs”.

Grolltex, short for ‘graphene-rolling-technologies’, is the largest commercial producer of single layer or electronics grade graphene in North America. The company is lately focusing more of its efforts on servicing sensor markets in the life science and biology areas and seeing continually more adoption of graphene as a sensing material for such uses as DNA sequencing and new drug discovery. Monolayer graphene films are today seen as the most promising futuristic sensing materials for their combination of surface to volume ratio (the film is only one atom thick) and its conductivity (the most conductive substance known at room temperature). 

“For advanced sensor makers that operate at the nano-scale, there is no better material to design your device with than single layer graphene”, said Draa. “The applications and devices that our customers are designing with this material are enabling many previously unobtainable measurements and single layer graphene is now available and affordable for industrialization”. Grolltex makes the raw materials for nano-sensing as well as designing specific sensor devices and packaging for many critical, next generation applications. “We are seeing an explosion of activity in the micro-sensing world as sensor makers are picking up on the versatility and measurement performance benefits of this single atom thick material”.

Tags:  Graphene  Grolltex  Jeff Draa  Nanosensors  sensors 

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Graphene is leading to ultrafast wireless communication

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Graphene-based nanoantennas (blue and red dots) on a chip. Credit: University at Buffalo

For wireless communication, we’re all stuck on the same traffic-clogged highway — it’s a section of the electromagnetic spectrum known as radio waves.

Advancements have made the highway more efficient, but bandwidth issues persist as wireless devices proliferate and the demand for data grows. The solution may be a nearby, mostly untapped area of the electromagnetic spectrum known as the terahertz band.

“For wireless communication, the terahertz band is like an express lane. But there’s a problem: there are no entrance ramps,” says Josep Jornet, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University at Buffalo School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Jornet is the principal investigator of a three-year, $624,497 grant from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research to help develop a wireless communication network in the terahertz band. Co-principal investigators are Jonathan Bird, PhD, professor of electrical engineering, and Erik Einarsson, PhD, assistant professor of electrical engineering, both at UB.

Their work centers on developing extremely small radios — made of graphene and semiconducting materials — that enable short-range, high-speed communication.

The technology could ultimately reduce the time it takes to complete complex tasks, such as migrating the files of one computer to another, from hours to seconds. Other potential applications include implantable body nanosensors that monitor sick or at-risk people, and nanosensors placed on aging bridges, in polluted waterways and other public locations to provide ultra-high-definition streaming.

These are examples of the so-called Internet of Nano-Things, a play on the more common Internet of Things, in which everyday objects are hooked up to the cloud via sensors, microprocessors and other technology.

“We’ll be able to create highly accurate, detailed and timely maps of what’s happening within a given system. The technology has applications in health care, agriculture, energy efficiency — basically anything you want more data on,” Jornet says.

The untapped potential of Terahertz waves

Sandwiched between radio waves (part of the electromagnetic spectrum that includes AM radio, radar and smartphones) and light waves (remote controls, fiber optic cables and more), the terahertz spectrum is seldom used by comparison.

Graphene-based radios could help overcome a problem with terahertz waves: they do not retain their power density over long distances. It’s an idea that Jornet began studying in 2009 as a graduate student at Georgia Tech under Ian Akyildiz, PhD, Ken Byers Chair Professor in Telecommunications.

Graphene is a two-dimensional sheet of carbon that, in addition to being incredibly strong, thin and light, has tantalizing electronic properties. For example, electrons move 50 to 500 times faster in graphene compared to silicon.

In previous studies, researchers showed that tiny antennas graphene strips 10-100 nanometers wide and one micrometer long, combined with semiconducting materials such as indium gallium arsenide — can transmit and receive terahertz waves at wireless speeds greater than one terabit per second.

But to make these radios viable outside the laboratory, the antennas need other electronic components, such as generators and detectors that work in the same environment. This is the work that Jornet and his colleagues are focusing on.

Jornet says thousands — perhaps millions — of these arrayed radios working together could allow terahertz waves to travel greater distances. The nanosenors could be embedded into physical objects, such as walls and street signs, as well as chips and other electronic components, to create an Internet of Nano-Things.

“The possibilities are limitless,” says Jornet.

Jornet is a member of the Signals, Communications and Networks research group at UB’s electrical engineering department, while Bird and Einarsson work in the department’s Solid State Electronics research group.

The work described above is an example of the department’s strategy to hire faculty members with complimentary expertise that drive the convergence of basic research areas while developing new technologies and educating students.

Source: Cory Nealon

Tags:  Graphene  Internet of Things  Josep Jornet  Nanosensors  Radio  U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research  University at Buffalo  Wireless 

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