Researchers at the University of Manchester have developed graphene sensors embedded into RFIDs. The team, led by Dr Zhirun Hu, hopes that the breakthrough could expand the IoT with the sensors able to connect to any wireless network for battery-free, smart, wireless monitoring. Humidity sensors could be used in manufacturing processes where mositure levels are critical, such as food processing and healthcare applications.
The team layered graphene-oxide over graphene to create a flexible heterostructure for humidity sensors that can connect to any wireless network.
The university is the home of graphene, which is stronger than steel, lightweight, flexible and more conductive than copper. Since it was first isolated in 2004, scientists have layered graphene and 2D materials in various van der Waals heterostructures. Printing the sensors layer-by-layer makes them scalable and economical for mass production. The resulting humidity sensor harvests energy from the receiver to eliminate the need for a battery.
Dr Hu says that there are future possibilities for this graphene layering technique, using other 2D materials. “The developed technique has the potential to simplify how the information is gathered through its wireless system, nor is it is limited to a particular wireless network and has the ability to be compatible with networks including WiFi and 5G,” he said.
Professor Sir Kostya Novoselov co-ordinated the project, and commented: “It is the first example of the printable technology where several 2D materials come together to create a functional device immediately suitable for industrial applications. The Internet of Things is the fast growing segment of technology, and I’m sure that 2D materials will play an important role there.”