Graphene is a single atomic layer of graphite. It is optically transparent and has high electron mobility, and thus has great potential to make transparent conductive electrodes. This invention contributes towards the development of graphene transparent conductive electrodes for next-generation microshutter arrays.

The original design for the electrodes of the next generation of microshutters uses indium-tin-oxide (ITO) as the electrode material. ITO is widely used in NASA flight missions. The optical transparency of ITO is limited, and the material is brittle. Also, ITO has been getting more expensive in recent years. The objective of the invention is to develop a graphene transparent conductive electrode that will replace ITO. An exfoliation procedure was developed to make graphene out of graphite crystals. In addition, large areas of single-layer graphene were produced using low-pressure chemical vapor deposition (LPCVD) with high optical transparency. A special graphene transport procedure was developed for transferring graphene from copper substrates to arbitrary substrates.

The concept is to grow large-size graphene sheets using the LPCVD system through chemical reaction, transfer the graphene film to a substrate, dope graphene to reduce the sheet resistance, and pattern the film to the dimension of the electrodes in the microshutter array.

Graphene transparent conductive electrodes are expected to have a transparency of 97.7%. This covers the electromagnetic spectrum from UV to IR. In comparison, ITO electrodes currently used in microshutter arrays have 85% transparency in mid-IR, and suffer from dramatic transparency drop at a wavelength of near-IR or shorter. Thus, graphene also has potential application as transparent conductive electrodes for Schottky photodiodes in the UV region.

This work was done by Mary Li, Mahmooda Sultana, and Larry Hess of Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-16148-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the May, 2012 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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