Scientists and engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee have accidentally discovered an entirely new carbon-based material that is synthesized from graphene. The new material that the researchers are calling graphene monoxide unifies all three characteristics of electrical conductivity – conduction, insulation and semi-conduction – which are needed for use in electronics.
Graphene has the potential to revolutionize electronics because it conducts electricity much better than the gold and copper wires used in current devices. Applications for graphene however are limited because it’s too expensive to mass produce. Another problem is that, until now, graphene-related materials existed only as conductors or insulators.
The researchers created the new material by heating grapheme oxide (GO) in a vacuum to reduce oxygen. Instead of being destroyed, however, the carbon and oxygen atoms in the layers of GO became aligned, transforming themselves into the ordered, semiconducting graphene monoxide (GMO) – a material that does not exist in nature. It was not the result they expected. The new GMO exhibits characteristics that will make it easier to scale up than grapheme and it is semiconducting.