Graphene is a long way from becoming viable for semiconductors and the other applications where its unique physical properties could make the most difference, but if you’re a leading manufacturer that needs large quantities of the stuff on the cheap for lower-tech projects, that can already be arranged today. And LG is using its access to the fullest advantage.
A newly published patent filing from the South Korean electronics giant reveals the specifications for a futuristic microwave that has a graphene door to prevent the radiation inside from leaking out, ensuring more uniform heating. The highlight is not so much the invention itself but rather the manufacturing process, which follows a special layering approach.
First, a catalyst metal with microwave shielding properties such as copper is sandwiched between two layers of graphene synthesized using a technique known as chemical vapor deposition. The filing doesn’t specify a supplier, but the most likely among the small handful of commercial producers that employ the technique is Graphenea, a startup that claims industry-leading prices below even some of the existing materials graphene aims to replace.
Next, a number of support materials are added to the structure in order to support the subsequent etching phases, which pattern the individual layers in a way that exposes both the graphene absorbent and the catalyst metal with its shielding properties for double effect. And so we have arrived at most reliable microwave door to have ever entered the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s database:
Of course, microwaves are hardly the pinnacle of graphene’s potential. But the more applications manufacturers find for the one-atom-thick wonder material, the greater the demand for suppliers like Graphenea, which will drive down prices. And what better way to drive demand than through everyday products that sell tens of millions of units every year.