31 Jul

Announcing the successful industrial feasibility test of a turnkey quantum Hall system for graphene characterisation and primary resistance metrology

Oxford Instrument announces the successful completion of the collaborative project with National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and the National Graphene Institute (NGI) at University of Manchester. The project has been partially funded by the Innovate UK for development of commercial measurement system for nanotechnology applications, reducing operational costs, time and complexity. The collaboration was led by Oxford Instruments and the turnkey system has been developed, verified and tested at company’s Tubney Wood site in UK. The quantum measurement system operates at cryogen free low magnetic fields and will enable primary resistance calibrations with unprecedented accuracies to be used by the national (metrology) laboratories and indusrial companies.

“This is an exciting achievement by the consortium in demonstrating the industrial feasibility of using graphene and 2D materials to commercialise quantum measurement systems and  enable new innovative and turnkey solutions in standard measurements and 2D materials characterisation”, said Ziad Melhem, the Alliances Manager from Oxford Instruments NanoScience.

Graphene is a revolutionary, two-dimensional (2D), atomic scale carbon material with unmatched properties and is expected to revolutionise industry and consumer products over the coming years. Graphene's discoverers from Manchester University in the UK were awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010. Graphene is the first truly 2D material and is classed as a "super-material" offering extremely high electrical and thermal conductivity, hydrophobicity, strength, and impermeability to all gases. Graphene is widely seen as a new platform material for advanced manufacturing, with applications including electronics, fashion and sports wearable technology, mining, water conservation and purification, automotive structures and energy storage.

Demand for accurate measurements at the nanoscale will continue to increase and the graphene-enabled quantum resistance system will provide the high-end electronics instrumentation industry with a primary resistance standard for the first time. The system can be used directly on the factory floor dramatically reducing the calibration traceability chain and improving the precision of electronics instrumentation. The quantum Hall effect (QHE) is one of the most fundamental phenomena in solid-state physics and its observation in graphene was the acid  test that proved that this material is a true two-dimensional crystal of the highest quality. The QHE is also the cornerstone of electrical metrology as it is the primary realisation of the unit for resistance, the ohm.

The UK has been a global leader in research on graphene since it was discovered at the University of Manchester and supported since then by over £80 million funding from the UK government. Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) are investing an additional £2.5 million in technical feasibility studies to target the applications of graphene with the greatest commercial potential. Oxford Instruments NanoScience, the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and National Graphene Institute (NGI) at Manchester University were awarded a grant from Innovate UK, to test the operation of a turnkey quantum Hall system in industrial environment.

Professor Vladimir Falko, Director of the NGI at Manchester University commented, “It happens very rarely that blue-sky fundamental research delivers applicable results at the timescale of just one decade. In this case, we are lucky to be able to beat the clock.”

Dr JT Janssen, NPL Research Director said, “This is an exciting development because calibration laboratories have long wanted to have primary resistance traceability on the shop floor. This novel technology will make this a reality for the first time and open the door to many more innovative applications.”