Article last updated on: May 02, 2019

There are various methods to produce graphene materials, such as mechanical exfoliation of graphite, liquid-phase exfoliation and reduction of graphene oxide (GO), each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) is a method of producing graphene that has attracted much attention in the last decade and despite several shortcomings, is considered a leading approach to manufacture graphene, especially for applications like high-performance electronics and sensors, as it can yield high quality graphene sheets with a low defect count and good uniformity.

The CVD process

Generally speaking, the CVD method is based on gaseous reactants that are deposited on a substrate. The graphene is grown on a metallic surface like Cu, Pt or Ir, after which it can be separated from the metal and transferred to specifically-required substrates. When the gases contact the substrate inside the heated reaction chamber, a reaction occurs that creates a film of material on the substrate. The process can be simply explained as carbon-bearing gases that react at high temperatures (900–1100 °C) in the presence of a metal catalyst, which serves both as a catalyst for the decomposition of the carbon species and as a surface for the nucleation of the graphene lattice.

As was mentioned before, conditions like temperature, pressure, duration of time and many more can have a significant influence on the process and so must be carefully monitored.

Advantages and disadvantages

CVD can yield high quality graphene, with common characteristics that may include high homogeneity, imperviousness, high purity, fine grains, good control over layer number and more. However, CVD also comes with several disadvantages - namely a relatively high price of the equipment, toxic gaseous by-products and, as stated before, it is a rather sensitive process that is easily influenced by parameter changes. It is important to note that while CVD is a rather expensive method compared to other methods to produce lower-quality graphene, it is still probably the best way (to date) to acquire high quality graphene, since other ways to do that are even more expensive or complicated.

In addition, the separation (or exfoliation) of graphene from the substrate is known as challenging and it is tricky to accomplish without damaging the structure of the graphene or affecting the properties of the material. Another harrowing task is the creation of a uniform layer of graphene on a substrate, something that is continuously proving to not be easy at all.

Some approaches were and are still being developed to overcome this issue, like modifying the concentration of gases and incorporating spin coating methods, but this remains a challenge. However, despite these challenges, it is important to note that CVD is widely considered as an important and promising method to produce graphene, which is already in use, and will probably be even more so in the future, once further advancements are made. It is noteworthy that CVD is already a dominant manufacturing route for many other nanomaterials, and will assumably be in extremely common use once progress is made to resolve the issues that are currently hindering its acceptance.

Market status

While using the CVD method to produce graphene is definitely one the leading approaches in the world, it is still hindered by the challenges mentioned above. Thus, it is currently mostly limited to relatively small volumes and mainly restricted to R&D and academic uses.

However, graphene sheets produced via CVD methods are used in several applications like sensors, touch screens and heating elements. It is believed that once better answers are found to the questions of price and handling of CVD graphene, many more applications will start to appear.

Looking to buy CVD graphene sheets?

If you are interested in buying CVD graphene sheets, check out the Graphene Catalog that lists various CVD produced graphene sheets from several producers.

The latest CVD graphene news:

planarTECH releases investor pitch video for its crowdfunding campaign

UK-based planarTECH is launching an equity crowdfunding campaign at on Seedrs, as part of Graphene-Info's Graphene Crowdfunding Arena, and the company now released its first investor video pitch that summarizes the business and technology:

planarTECH is the first company to apply to our Graphene Crowdfunding Arena, and potential investors can currently pre-register for exclusive early access to this campaign. The first step should be to join Seedrs as an investor (which will also enable the participation in future graphene campaigns) and then to apply to planarTECH’s investment page as an interested investor. The company's campaign will go live soon!

Navigate the emerging graphene market

This is a sponsored article by Dr Richard Collins, IDTechEx

Graphene is on the cusp of significant market growth; the opportunities are exciting and diverse, each with significant potential. Graphene and 2D Materials Europe 2020 (13-14 May, Berlin) is the largest B2B event on the topic with a dedicated focus on the commercial frontiers.

Graphene & 2D Materials Europe 2020 leader

There is often confusion surrounding the types of graphene, commercial status, and their target markets. This article will briefly summarise each and showcase what to expect at this event.

Graphene production systems maker planarTECH launches an equity crowdfunding campaign to support its future growth potential

UK-based planarTECH is launching an equity crowdfunding campaign at on Seedrs, as part of Graphene-Info's Graphene Crowdfunding Arena. planarTECH aims to expand its current business and also initiate new graphene endeavors.

planarTECH planarGROW 8S photo

planarTECH, founded in 2014, supplies CVD equipment for the production of high quality graphene sheets, as well as other 2D materials. The company was focused on research institutes, and already sold over 65 systems with a customer list that includes Manchester University, the University of Cambridge, Stanford University and the National University of Singapore.

New method uses hydrogen plasma to smooth out wrinkles in graphene

Researchers from Nanjing University in China have developed a method to make large graphene films free of any wrinkles. The ultra-smooth films could enable large-scale production of electronic devices that harness the unique physical and chemical properties of graphene and other 2D materials.

Wrinkles  disappear when graphene is treated with a hydrogen plasma imageWrinkles in graphene films grown via chemical vapor deposition appear as jagged white lines at the top of this atomic force microscope image (left), but they disappear when the material is treated with a hydrogen plasma (right). Credit: Nature

Chemical vapor deposition (CVD) is the best-known method for making high-quality graphene sheets. It typically involves growing graphene by pumping methane gas onto copper substrates heated to temperatures around 1,000 °C, and then transferring the graphene to another surface such as silicon. But some of the graphene sticks to the copper surface, and as the graphene and copper expand and contract at different rates, wrinkles form in the graphene sheets. Such wrinkles often present hurdles for charge carriers and lower the film’s conductivity. Other researchers have tried to reduce wrinkles using low growth temperatures or special copper substrates, but the wrinkles have proven difficult to eliminate entirely, according to Libo Gao, a physicist at Nanjing University.

Graphenea launches highly flat monolayer graphene on copper thin film

Graphenea has announced the launch of a new product – highly flat monolayer graphene. The graphene is grown by CVD on copper thin film on a 2” sapphire substrate. With extremely low roughness that is less than 4 nm, this new product is targeted at applications in photonics, high-performance electronics, magnetic memory, and freestanding membranes.

Graphenea's new flat monolayer graphene on copper thin film image

The product aims to meet wafer-scale integration requirements to build uniform graphene devices in a fashion compatible with current industrial fabrication methods. The flat graphene product is ready to be transferred by electrochemical delamination or dry methods since the sapphire substrate is robust enough to withstand mechanical damage, preventing tearing and wrinkling of the thin Cu sheet. The total wafer thickness is 430 micrometers. Full product information can be found in Graphenea's online store.