A graphene-based electronic ink that paves the way for wearable, printed electronics and sensors, such as heart monitors, has been developed

An electronic ink that can be printed on a laser and then conducts electricity has been developed by scientists. The graphene-based ink was used to make a small plastic keyboard by researchers at the University of Cambridge, who found the one atom-thick material could be used to make cheap, printed electronics. It could be used in the future for people who need heart monitors, as they could be embed onto clothes, or for tracking luggage in an airport to ensure it is loaded on to the correct plane. (via Electronic printable ink developed by scientists - Telegraph)

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Beyond fabrication costs and quality, graphene-based electronics must overcome certain obstacles to be practical. Touch screens, electronic “paper”, and other display-based media require improvements in the electrical resistance at the junction between the graphene and metal electrodes. The authors of the review wrote that they expect this problem will be solved in the next decade.

So why can’t we make the whole device from graphene? While some progress has been made on graphene transistors, they aren’t production-ready yet. Semiconductor transistors, which are the foundation of modern electronics, have a particular electronic property known as a bandgap: a transition point that allows an asymmetric flow of charge through circuits. Pure graphene lacks a bandgap; research is ongoing to address the problem (by using multiple layers, adding other elements, and/or making structural changes), but Novoselov et al. speculated graphene integrated circuits are at least a decade off.

As a result, graphene is not poised to replace conventional semiconductor components any time soon. However, in areas where no conventional devices exist—flexible and transparent electronics—graphene-based electronics could arrive in consumers’ hands in the next decade or so. Maybe it won’t be a bendable cell phone you can put in the back pocket of your jeans, but it’s a safe bet that graphene will be moving from the laboratory into the wider world relatively soon.

Well, looks like I won’t be getting contacts with a heads up display any time soon…