Low cost and easy delamination process to isolate high quality graphene films

Researchers from the CSIC and the laboratory CIBER- BBN have developed a simple procedure to isolate highly crystalline graphene. The method enables the graphene to be transferred from the silicon carbide substrate, where it has been formed, to any other one, such as a dielectric for electronic device applications.

 Graphene structure.Nowadays, the most preferred synthesis processes for obtaining highly crystalline graphene are the Chemical Vapor deposition (CVD) and the Epitaxial Graphene on Silicon Carbide (EG-SiC).

In the first one, CVD, graphene is formed on a metal surface by chemical vapour deposition. Afterwards, the method requires an additional step for removing the underlying metal and transferring the graphene to functional substrates. This step, aimed at destroying the metallic substrate (and so called ‘sacrificial’ metal catalyst), requires the use of a FeCl3 based solution, which is very corrosive and environmental unfriendly.

On the other hand, the GE-SiC method makes graphene to grow on a semiconducting or semi-insulating substrate, avoiding the disadvantages of sacrificial metal catalyst step. Nevertheless, the disadvantage is that it uses silicon carbide (SiC) as a substrate, which is a material more expensive. Still, graphene has to be transferred to the surface of the chip or device where it will be implemented.

In any case, the exfoliation and transfer of graphene from one substrate to another is a critical step. Until now, no method has transformed this operation in a robust process, which therefore delays the wide industrialization and commercialization of electronic devices with graphene.

Researchers from the Instituto de Microelectrónica de Barcelona – Centro Nacional de Microelectrónica (IMB-CNM) of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and the laboratory of biomedical research CIBER- BBN, have recently developed a novel and simple procedure to isolate highly crystalline graphene.

The method is based on the use of doped SiC wafers, which are cheaper than the SiC wafers required by the GE-SiC method, and enables the graphene to be transferred from its growth silicon carbide substrate to any other one, such as a dielectric for electronic device applications.

The transfer method has been successfully tested, showing good performance and reproducibility. As a main advantage, it is a versatile and a simple transfer process (one-step procedure to isolate graphene), easily scalable, fast and modular method. Also, it preserves the high quality of graphene, preserving its crystal domain and sheet size; and no adhesives or mechanical traction for metal thin films are required. It is environmentally friendly, as does not uses corrosive chemicals or sacrificial materials. Also, the doped SiC wafers can be reused after graphene exfoliation.

Graphene or SiC producers and device makers are being sought to collaborate in further development, e.g. scalability, or to exploit the existing know-how through a patent license agreement.


Isabel Gavilanes-Pérez, PhD.
Deputy Vice-Presidency for
Knowledge Transfer.
Spanish National Research Council
Tel.: +34 – 93 594 77 00
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