Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs), graphene and their compounds exhibit extraordinary electrical properties for organic materials, and have a huge potential in electrical and electronic applications such as photovoltaics, sensors, semiconductor devices, displays, conductors, smart textiles and energy conversion devices (e.g., fuel cells, harvesters and batteries). This updated report brings all of this together, covering the latest work from over 100 organisations around the world to details of the latest progress applying the technologies. New developments, challenges and opportunities regarding material production and applications are provided.
Printable carbon nanotube inks and graphene-based inks are beginning to hit the market. However, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have not yet met commercial expectations from a decade ago, and now hot on its heels is graphene. Graphene is considered a hot candidate for applications such as computers, displays, photovoltaics and flexible electronics.
Graphene and its compounds are increasingly used to make transistors that show extremely good performance - a progress that comes with new cheaper production processes for the raw material. Transistors on the basis of graphene are considered to be potential successors for some silicon components currently in use.
On the other hand, carbon nanotubes are still a strong focus for research. CNTs are used for making transistors and are applied as conductive layers for the rapidly growing touch screen market. Still considered a viable replacement for ITO transparent conductors in some applications, CNTs are not out of the game just yet. Fabricated as transparent conductive films (TCF), carbon nanotubes can potentially be used as a highly conductive, transparent and cost efficient alternative in flexible displays and touch screens, for instance. While the cost of carbon nanotubes was once prohibitive, it has been coming down in recent years as chemical companies build up manufacturing capacity.
IDTechEx market forecasts indicate that CNT and graphene transistors and other applications may be commercially available in volume from 2016 onwards, according to the new report Carbon Nanotubes and Graphene for Electronics Applications 2012-2022. According to IDTechEx, the biggest opportunity for both materials is in printed and potentially printed electronics, where the value of these devices that partly incorporate these materials will reach over $63 billion in 2022.
Challenges are material purity, device fabrication, and the need for other device materials such as suitable dielectrics. However, the opportunity is large, given the high performance, flexibility, transparency and printability. Companies that IDTechEx surveyed report growth rates as high as 300% over the next five years. New developments regarding the production of pure CNTs and the separation of conducting and semiconducting carbon nanotubes are given in this updated report.