Graphene – a solid form of carbon in which atoms are arranged in a two-dimensional hexagonal lattice – is the building block of many more familiar forms of carbon, such as graphite and charcoal. Sheets of graphene are a single atom thick, extremely strong and flexible, almost transparent, and excellent conductors of electricity. This makes graphene an excellent candidate to use when printing flexible circuits, as it is in many ways easier to work with than metals.
This photo shows an ink used for these circuits, created by James Macleod and his colleagues at the University of Cambridge.
“We are working to create conductive inks for printing flexible electronics,” says Macleod. “This was the first time we had used alcohol to create our ink and I was struck by how mesmerising it looked while mixing.” The ink is made by passing graphite at high pressure through micrometre-scale capillaries made of diamond, which rips the graphene layers apart resulting in a smooth, conductive material in solution.
The picture recently won a UK-wide prize for scientific photography. See more entries here.