Editorial Feature

The Growth of CVD Graphene at Low Temperatures

Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) is the most common way of producing graphene and is performed in many ways throughout the world. Growing graphene directly into electronic devices is a highly desirable process, but has been difficult to perform due to high process temperatures (of around 1000 °C) damaging the substrate components.

A team of Researchers from Japan have created a new CVD approach to grow graphene at temperatures as low as 50 °C using a dilute methane vapor source and a molten gallium catalyst.

Reducing the temperature in graphene chemical vapor deposition (CVD) synthesis methods is a particularly crucial challenge for electronic applications, especially for the direct integration of CVD-grown graphene into electronic devices.

In silicon-based electronics, the upper temperature threshold that the components can withstand upon graphene integration is around 400 °C. The threshold is even lower for plastic semiconducting devices, which can only withstand up to 100 °C during the graphene growing process. Under traditional conditions, graphene growth occurs at around 1000 °C and has not been suitable for the direct integration into such electronic devices.

That could well change though, as a team of Researchers from Japan have grown CVD-graphene onto sapphire and polycarbonate substrates with the help of a molten gallium catalyst and dilute methane atmosphere. The gallium catalyst was chosen as it was a proven catalyst in recent graphene growth methods and can be easily removed by a gas jet after the graphene has been synthesized. The methane was diluted to 5% by mixing the atmospheric gas with a nitrogen and argon mixture.

The Researchers inspected the quality of the grown graphene using Raman spectroscopy (RAMANplus, Nanophoton Corporation), scanning electron microscopy (SEM, S-4800, Hitachi High-Technologies Corporation) and high-resolution transmission electron microscopy (HR-TEM, JEM-ARM200F, JEOL Ltd).

The new CVD process was able to create high quality graphene at near room temperature (relatively speaking), with graphene being grown onto sapphire substrates at 50 °C and at 100 °C on polycarbonate substrates.

The low-temperature synthesis was made possible through carbon attachment to island edges of pre-grown graphene nuclei islands and resulted in no damage to the substrate or surrounding components. The pre-existing nuclei island themselves were produced through conventional CVD processes or by a special nuclei transfer technique using a mixture 12C and 13C at low temperatures.

The presence of the molten gallium catalyst enhanced the methane absorption at lower temperatures and ultimately led to a low reaction barrier of 0.16 eV below 300 °C and 0.58 eV above 500 °C. This was confirmed through Arrhenius plots. The molten state of gallium was also found to be fluidic enough to facilitate an enhanced transport and growth of carbon atoms.

The fast growth kinetics associated with the low reaction barrier and low-temperature nuclei transfer process were found to facilitate the growth of graphene down to as low as 50 °C and is a result of competing pathways, i.e. methane decomposition at the gallium surface; and methane adsorption in bulk liquid gallium, followed by the subsequent deposition in gallium.

The two pathways were found to be favored at high and low temperatures, respectively and explains the reasons why a weak temperature dependence and low reaction barrier are present during the process. The methane absorption pathway is also thought to be unique for molten gallium as the process was found to be ineffective when other metals were used, including common graphene catalysts such as copper and nickel.

Although in this instance the growth was confined to the gallium droplet-substrate interface, the fluidic nature of the gallium catalyst is thought to be applicable to conformal graphene on 3D objects.

The results of the research have presented significant advancements in low-temperature graphene synthesis methods and the Researchers have managed to grow graphene directly onto a plastic substrate for the very first time. Anyone in the graphene field will understand the potential implications low-temperature synthesis approaches possesses and could be used for future integration of graphene into various electronic devices.

Image Credit:

Mopic/ Shutterstock.com


“Near room temperature chemical vapor deposition of graphene with diluted methane and molten gallium catalyst”- Fujita J-I., et al, Scientific Reports, 2017, DOI:10.1038/s41598-017-12380-w

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Liam Critchley

Written by

Liam Critchley

Liam Critchley is a writer and journalist who specializes in Chemistry and Nanotechnology, with a MChem in Chemistry and Nanotechnology and M.Sc. Research in Chemical Engineering.


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  1. Reginald Little Reginald Little United States says:

    This is a very important experimental paper.  I would like to note that is is consistent with the 2000 mechanism of graphene and carbon nanotube nucleation and growth as based on the Little Effect (many spin alterations of orbital dynamics during physical and chemical dynamics) and Ferrochemistry and the Ga solvent plays a similar role relative to prior Fe, Co, Ni ferromagnetic catalytic solvents.  The Ga ferromagnetic solvent however is different as its nuclei ( Ga-69 nuclear spin 3/2 and nuclear magnetic moment of 2.01; Ga-71 nuclear spin 3/2 and nuclear magnetic moment 2.56) and its 3 valence electrons manifest the dense spin moments to manifest the Little Effect and the Ferrochemistry during the CH4 decomposition, C absorption, C transport, C fixation and C deposition into the graphene seed!  For the older Fe, Co and Ni catalysts, the electronic lattice more so manifested the ferrochemistry, although with Co, its Co-59 nuclei of magnetic nuclei (7/2 spin and large 4.62 magnetic moment)) offset the electronic manifestation of the ferrochemistry for Co catalysis and this explaining differences in Fe and Ni for graphene and CNT verses Co.  And Co alloy allowing more single walled CNT.  But the graphene by the new Ga catalysts is still a magnetic phenomena and due to the Little Effect and Ferrochemistry.  I really like this new Ga catalytic formation of graphene as it further demonstrates another aspect of the Little Effect and Ferrochemistry: the dense spin and strong magnetism by antisymmetry of the Ferrochemistry transforming thermal energy to magnetic and quantum energy and preventing the dissipation of quantum and magnetic energy to thermal energy.  The potential energy in the Ga is really driving the Ferrochemistry and the low temperatures makes such potential energy so crucial in the process;  the ability of the polarized Ga nuclei and carbon radicals under internal strong magnetic fields to prevent the rotations of coordinates and dissipation of bond forming energy to thermal (at the graphene interface) (and even transform thermal energy to magnetic and quantum energy) is evident as the process does not thermally quench and the efficiency of such is large as the the temperature is so low and there is so little thermal energy to convert into the quantum fields for fueling the process.  Such later aspects in this Ga graphene forming process supports RBL proposed violation of second law of thermodynamics by the strong internal magnetics and the Little Effect and Ferrochemistry manifesting the use of thermal energy to order the carbon into graphene.

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  3. Anisa Goldferiy Anisa Goldferiy United States says:

    It is a high-technology. the method of reducing the temperature in graphene chemical vapor deposition (CVD) synthesis methods is a particularly crucial challenge for electronic applications. It is also a great breakthrough for us.

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The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of AZoNano.com.

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