Since its discovery in 2004, graphene has rapidly attracted the attention of academic and commercial institutions, which are looking to develop new technologies from the material. These include speedy electronics and communications devices, and a new generation of highly efficient solar cells.

The fundamental science of graphene and its potential applications are subjects of great interest to Patrick Soukiassian, a scientist who has spent several decades researching nanotechnologies and semiconductor materials. In this video interview, Soukiassian, of the University of Paris-Sud/Orsay and CEA-Saclay, explains that the vast potential of graphene has now been recognized by the European Union, which is starting to invest in several initiatives to support the development of these technologies.

In a separate video recorded last year, I visited the University of Manchester in the UK to learn how graphene can be made using nothing more than a sheet of graphite and some sticky tape.

But in order to develop applications, scientists are now seeking ways to produce high-quality graphene in large quantities. Soukiassian identifies one promising approach that involves growing sheets of graphene crystals on an underlying substrate of silicon carbide. The fact that this method is silicon-based means that it can borrow techniques that have already been refined over many years in the computing and electronics industries.

This field of research, known as epitaxial graphene, is the subject of a recent special issue of Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics, of which Soukiassian is an associate editor. The collection of papers, guest edited by Walt A de Heer of Georgia Institute of Technology, US, and Claire Berger of Georgia Institute of Technology and CNRS-Institut Néel, France, addresses the science and technology behind epitaxial graphene, both its production and its physical properties. The issue is free to read until the end of June 2012.

  • Graphene compilation Discover the must-read research on this expanding topic across eight leading physics journals from IOP Publishing