The world's strongest material is created in Otaniemi
Aalto University's Department of Micro- and Nanosciences has made two significant investments in equipment with a total value of about two million euros.
– We now have the best possible equipment for two important research directions: on gallium nitride compounds used in manufacturing LEDs and on graphene research. The equipment we have invested in enables, among other things, better investigation of new components and quantum phenomena, Professor Harri Lipsanen, the head of the department, explains.
Chemical vapour deposition (CVD) is used to produce graphene, a carbon crystal of the thickness of one layer of atoms.
– Graphene is currently the most durable known substance in the world and it is expected to become the most important material since the invention of plastic, Lipsanen says.
The investment in the equipment provides strong support to the European-wide research effort on graphene.
– We are participating in the EU's flagship project, the aim of which is to transfer the results of graphene research from university laboratories to European industry. In addition to electronics, graphene has significant application potential for photonics components, such as lasers and optical data communications, which in future are expected to contribute towards the Internet of Things (IoT). In future, we also will investigate the use of graphene in terahertz technology.
From LEDs to solar cells and electric cars
Another one of the department's fresh investments is a device employing the MOVPE (metallo-organic vapour phase epitaxy) method, which is used to fabricate almost all compound semiconducting materials in the field of nanotechnology. Their applications include the world's most efficient solar cells and the best LED lights.
– Alongside LED lights, the field of high-frequency power-electronics components has emerged. The field is growing strongly and uses the same materials. These components are needed for example in electric cars and link stations. Gallium nitride transistor structures, especially grown by MOVPE on silicon are becoming more common, and it is expected that their production also will start soon, Lipsanen clarifies.
With research on nanomaterials, quite large and sudden changes to the development of future technology can be made. The research aims for applications that can be easily adapted by industry and especially by startup companies for their development work.
– Theoretical and computational research supporting experimental material research is one of the cornerstones of nanoscience and nanotechnology, Lipsanen reminds us.
Professor Harri Lipsanen
Aalto University, Department of Micro- and Nanosciences
tel +358 50 4339 740
Photos: Aalto University / Mikko Raskinen