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Manchester Team Prints Graphene RFID Antenna on Paper


Researchers from the University of Manchester have invented something wonderful with graphene. Along with graphene manufacturer BGT Materials they have used compressed graphene ink to print an RF antenna measuring 14cm x 3.5mm onto a piece of paper.

The team ensured that the antenna performs well and is enough for the use of RFID tags and wireless sensors. By mixing graphene flakes with a solvent and sometimes with a binder such as ethyl cellulose, graphene is made.

Compared to binder free ink, graphene with binders usually conducts electricity better but only after the binder material – an insulator – is broken down by annealing.

Annealing process limits the surfaces onto which graphene ink can be printed because the high temperatures destroy materials like paper or plastic. New methods have been formulated by the researcher team to increase the conductivity of graphene ink without resorting to a binder.  They made it possible by first printing and drying the ink, then compressing it with a roller. Ink compressing can lead the increase graphene's conductivity to more than 50 times.

Xianjun Huang, a PhD candidate in Manchester's School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, after comparing the graphene based RFID tag to those made from aluminium or copper, said that "Graphene based RFID tags can reduce cost significantly, thanks to a much simpler process and lower material cost." 

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