The news about the graphene piano (and anti-fraud lasers, etc.) is contained in a report from the University of Cambridge’s Cambridge Innovation and Knowledge Centre (CIKC), according to a Nov. 5, 2013 news item on phys.org (Note: A link has been removed),
Two prototypes – a detection device which users lasers to fight fraud, and a piano which demonstrates the potential of printed electronics – have been unveiled by Cambridge researchers.
A detection device which uses printed lasers to identify counterfeit goods has been developed by researchers, who say that it could help to make products more resistant to fraud.
The detector is one of a number of innovations covered in a new report by the Cambridge Innovation and Knowledge Centre (CIKC), which has been developing advanced manufacturing technologies for photonics and electronics.
The same document also outlines a new method for printing graphene, showing how the one atom-thick material could be used to make cheap, printed electronics. Using a graphene-based ink, researchers have demonstrated this by creating a transparent, flexible piano.
Here’s a video about the transparent piano produced at Cambridge,
The Nov. 5, 2013 University of Cambridge news release, which originated the news item, offers details about the piano and the graphene inks used to produce it,
The printed piano meanwhile demonstrates the potential of using graphene in real applications where printed electronics might be needed – such as heart monitors and other sensors.
The research team behind it, Drs Tawfique Hasan, Felice Torrisi and Prof Andrea Ferrari, at the Cambridge Graphene Centre, have developed a graphene-based ink. Like the material itself, this has a number of interesting properties, including flexibility, optical transparency, and electrical conductivity.
Other conductive inks are made from precious metals such as silver, which makes them very expensive to produce and process, whereas graphene is both cheap, environmentally stable, and does not require much processing after printing. Graphene ink is also superior to conductive polymers in terms of cost, stability and performance.
The piano, designed in collaboration with Novalia Limited, shows off the graphene ink’s potential. The keys of the transparent piano are made from graphene-based inks, which have been printed on to a plastic film. These keys, working as electrodes, are connected to a simple electronic circuit-board, a battery and speaker. When a person touches a graphene electrode, the amount of electrical charge held in the key changes. This is then detected and redirected by the circuit to the speaker, creating the musical note.
The same research team, in collaboration with Printed Electronics Limited, has developed a flexible prototype digital display. This display uses conventional printable materials, but with a transparent, electrically conductive graphene layer on top. The graphene layer is not only a flexible but also more conductive and transparent than the conventional polymer it replaces. These simple displays can be used in a wide range of smart packaging applications such as toys, labelling and board games.
“Both of these devices show how graphene could be printed on to a whole range of surfaces, which makes it ideal for printed electronics,” Dr Hasan, the lead researcher behind the prototypes, said. For example, it might eventually be possible to print electronics on to clothing and to make wearable patches to monitor people with health conditions, such as a heart problem.”
Another potential application is cheap, printable sensors, which could be used to track luggage around an airport to ensure it is loaded on to the correct plane, or to follow products across a production and supply chain.
For anyone who’d like to see the report and get information on the other projects discussed in it just click on the title: Advanced Manufacturing Technologies for Photonics and Electronics – Exploiting Molecular and Macromolecular Materials: Final Report.
*’Unviersity in headline changed to University 11:11 am PDT Nov. 7, 2013.