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Graphene Nanostructure Can Now Improve Optical Fiber

Graphene is a structurally different form of the same carbon atoms, with a one-atom-thick sheet arranged in a honeycomb lattice It has many remarkable characteristics like its extreme strength (100 – 300 times more than that of steel), high thermal and electrical conductivity, high resistance and hardness, transparency and ability to generate electricity by exposure to sunlight. Its application ranges from use on solar cells, electrical batteries, nuclear power plant, in medicine (cancer treatment, gene delivery, dialysis), UV sensors and optoelectronics, etc. many new materials are being experimented with for photonic technology, graphene is one of those. The requirement for energy and power increases with time. The presence of graphene makes efficient and effective optical telecommunication solutions.

Optical fiber currently in use is silicon-based with good speed and long-distance transmissions, this performance can be enhanced by adding graphene, the world’s strongest, thinnest, and most conductive substance of heat and electricity. The problem with incorporating graphene into telecommunication technologies is that it needs to be structured extravagantly tiny over large areas, this fabrication is extremely difficult. That goal is now a step closer with the work of researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison as published in ACS Photonics, Joel. F. Siegel and his team created a scalable fabrication technique to make the tiniest ribbon of graphene yet, they also estimated that with the slightest reduction in the width of the ribbon, it can easily be incorporated into the telecommunication. The researchers have made graphene scaling-up simple.

The wonder-material Graphene if modified to interact with higher energy light, can be used to modulate telecommunications signals at the speed of light.

For instance, it can be applied to wedge unwanted communication frequencies to enhance security. Graphene’s performance can be enhanced by trimming it into nanometer-scale ribbon structures, to make them act like small antennas that interact with light. The nanometer ribbons will be microscopic. The tiny the antenna of graphene, the higher energies of light it interacts with. With the application of an electric field, the graphene antenna can be tuned to interact with multiple light energies, broadening its applicability and performance further.

To achieve the goal of nanometer-scale ribbon, the researchers at UW-Madison initially constructed a device of graphene ribbons, which were narrower than the one made in the past.they attained the feather size by  Later constructing the ribbon-shaped polymers on top of graphene and then scraping away the surrounding materials, they were left with the accurately drawn, surprisingly thin ribbons of graphene. This technique proved to be excellent as it produced 12 nanometers wide and a very long graphene ribbon. Another advantage of this method is that it can easily be scaled up.

There isn’t any difference in the technique or patterning over the centimeter scales to produced industrial-sized ribbons. Its interaction with light is yet to be further explored. An interesting property of this reason explored by Professor Mikhail Kats was that, as the width of the ribbon decreases, so does the resonant wavelength. These graphene nano-ribbons will allow investigations into the basics of light-matter interactions.


Graphene nanostructures, telecommunication, optical fiber, thinnest graphene, optoelectronics, 2D plasmonics.

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