Universal Laser Systems (ULS), the world’s leader in laser materials processing and Rice University’s Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology in Houston, Texas, are actively collaborating on advanced research on Laser Induced Graphene (LIG) synthesis and refinement.
As part of that collaboration, Rice is using a state-of-the-art XLS10 Multiwave HybridTM laser system developed by ULS.
The Multiwave HybridTM technology can combine multiple laser beams with different wavelengths into a single coaxial beam. This unique capability enables the research group to combine multiple laser wavelengths and energies, and study the effects on the structure and properties of the resulting graphene.
The Rice University research group, led by Professor James M. Tour, initially discovered LIG in 2014. The LIG process is conducted under ambient conditions, meaning no high-temperature furnaces or vacuum chambers are necessary, dramatically reducing the cost of graphene production. The process involves exposing a sheet of commercial polyimide film to a laser beam. The laser’s energy converts the top 20 microns of the polyimide to a porous graphene structure. Graphene produced by the LIG technique has broad application in fields such as energy storage and catalysis.
In the near future, this process can be used to produce portable, flexible electronics and “wearable” electronics that can configure to a smartphone. Additionally, the production of laser-induced graphene is a one-step process that could allow for rapid manufacture of roll-to-roll flexible electronics in the future. Joe Hillman, Materials Science Engineer and Strategic Development Manager for Universal Laser Systems states that “the unique ability of the XLS10MWH to combine the beams from several different lasers provides an ideal system for studying and optimizing the interaction of light with matter.”
When asked about the collaboration between Universal Laser and Rice University, Dr. Tour said, “The ability to explore multiple wavelengths and reaction environments is expected to lead to great advancements in the field.”