he Solan company is commercialising semiconducting
graphene nanoribbon applications in the optoelectronics
and electronics markets. Solan’s use of conventional
semiconductor processing technology plus the unique properties
of graphene nanoribbons permits the fabrication of wireless
devices in the GHz and THz range, as well as optoelectronics
applications in the optical and infrared spectrum.
It isn’t often that a new group of materials is discovered. That
happened in 2004 when researchers at the University of
Manchester discovered graphene, single-atom-thick layers of
carbon that they peeled from graphite crystals with adhesive tape.
When the properties were measured on these small samples, they
were amazing – stronger than steel, better electrical conduction
than copper, better heat conduction than diamond. Since then
other super-thin or 2D compounds have been found, but none
rival graphene in its versatility and potential abundance.
Single-atom-thick graphene sheets or short stacks of these sheets
may be made in a number of ways – by peeling from graphite
physically or chemically to make graphene powders or by
depositing from gas or liquid. Graphene particles have been used
to strengthen carbon fibre composites – for example in tennis
rackets – and can be printed to form flexible electronics. Vapour-
deposited graphene is being developed as a transparent
conductor for touchscreens to replace indium tin oxide.
Graphene is a great conductor, but if it can be made into a
semiconductor it has many more uses. If you make the graphene
into thin ribbons of a few microns or less, the electrons don’t have
much room to move – quantum confinement – and they develop a
band gap. The band gap, the difference between the high energy
state and the low energy state for the electrons, can be used to
absorb light or radio waves or to create a transistor or other
semiconductor device just as in silicon. The smaller the ribbon the
smaller the wavelength – nanometre widths for light, micron
widths for radio – and they are infinitely tuneable.
As a result, graphene ribbon devices can be made into a range of
sensors, detectors, filters, polarisers, amplifiers etc. that can’t be
made in silicon. This means we can exploit this new technology in
medical imaging or super high data rate wireless communications.
Solan LLC was formed in 2010 to commercialise the graphene
process technology developed by the University of Utah and has
also developed its own unique patent portfolio. Seven patents
have been issued with over 20 pending and over 1,200 claims.
These are the practical building blocks for next-generation
wireless, sensor and solar technologies.
Solan’s patent portfolio, including US patents 7,858,876,
8,440,331, 8,580,658, 8,624,222, 8,664,642, 8,853,061 and
the just-allowed US 2014/0312307 and worldwide equivalents,
teaches in considerable detail how to create multi-level and multi-
configuration graphene ribbon arrays, how to connect them to
circuits using metallic work functions to advantage, how to create
multiple band gap systems using planar and non-planar structures
Solan is bringing graphene nanoribbons to the market via a variety of applications
Tied up with a nanoribbon
I S S U E S E V E N
H O R I Z O N 2 0 2 0 P R O J E C T S : P O R TA Lwww.horizon2020projects.com
P R O F I L E
S P E C I A L F E AT U R E : M AT E R I A L S