Graphene Microphone Performs Better Than Nickel Microphone

First Posted: Dec 02, 2015 01:40 PM EST

Researchers have created a graphene microphone that is 32 times more sensitive than traditional nickel-based microphones, according to a study at University of Belgrade.

The researchers built a vibrating membrane, which is a part of a condenser microphone. This converted the sound to a current from graphene and there was over 15 dB (decibels) of sensitivity compared to a normal microphone.

"We wanted to show that graphene, although a relatively new material, has potential for real world applications," Marko Spasenovic, co-author of the study, said in a news release. "Given its light weight, high mechanical strength and flexibility, graphene just begs to be used as an acoustic membrane material."

The graphene membrane is about 60 layers thick and it was produced on a nickel foil using a chemical vapor deposition, to allow consistent quality on all of the samples.

When the membrane was created, the nickel foil was etched and the graphene membrane was placed in the same housing as a commercial microphone for comparison. The researchers found a 15 dB higher sensitivity compared to a commercial microphone. In addition, the researchers created a 300-layer thick graphene membrane, which has high performance reach into the ultrasonic part of the spectrum.

"A thicker graphene membrane theoretically could be stretched further, enabling ultrasonic performance, but sadly we're just not quite there yet experimentally," Spasenovic said. "The industry is working hard to improve graphene production - eventually this should mean we have better microphones at lower cost."

The findings of this study were published in the journal 2D Materials.

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