Interestingly, a few days ago The Economist published an article stating that “Bacteria may be the key to turning graphene into a semiconductor”, showing the potential of graphene in transcending disciplines in an effort to deliver superior products and services that are better for the ‘People, Profit and Planet’.
Given graphene’s extraordinary electrical conductivity properties, the possibility of making thin, flexible, semi-transparent graphene based electronics has existed in the public imagination for some time now. However, to date tests on graphene sheets showed that the electric current moves randomly and in all directions. Moreover, graphene does not have a bandgap – “a property needed to create the distinct “on” and “off” electronic states that transistors rely on to work, and which is induced in a material by disrupting the way its electrons are distributed”.
Opening up a bandgap by introducing atoms of other elements into graphene’s sheets has shown to reduce graphene’s conductivity. However, a team of researchers from the University of Illinois, in Chicago, has recently uncovered a controlled method for modifying the atomic sheets by the use of wrinkles, using a bacterium called Bacillus subtilis.