SYDNEY, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- The once highly lauded "supermaterial" graphene has so far failed to transform the electronics industry in the ways that many thought it would.
Now, research released on Thursday by Australia's Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) revealed why it has failed to deliver in commercial tests, and how its power can finally be harnessed.
The team at RMIT led by Dr Dorna Esrafilzadeh and Dr Rouhollah Ali Jalili inspected commercially available graphene samples, atom by atom, with a state-of-the-art scanning transition electron microscope.
They found that there were high levels of silicon contamination in commercially available graphene which had "massive impacts" on the material's performance.
Silicone is present in graphite, the raw material used to make graphene, and it was apparently not being fully removed when processed.
"Graphene was billed as being transformative, but has so far failed to make a significant commercial impact," Esrafilzadeh said.
"Now we know why it has not been performing as promised, and what needs to be done to harness its full potential."
With contaminated material performing up to 50 percent worse when tested with electrodes, the findings gave researchers a clear picture of why the substance had failed commercial tests.
Graphene sheeting is only one atom thick, making it highly susceptible to surface contamination and making it vitally important that manufacturers are using high purity graphite in their production.
The team believe their findings represent a vital milestone for graphene and its applications and hope their research will unlock the full potential of the material.