Metal-assisted exfoliation (MAE): Green, roll-to-roll compatible method for transferring graphene to flexible substrates

Aliaksandr V. Zaretski, Herad Moetazedi, Casey Kong, Eric J. Sawyer, Suchol Savagatrup, Eduardo Valle, Timothy F. O'Connor, Adam D. Printz, Darren J. Lipomi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Graphene is expected to play a significant role in future technologies that span a range from consumer electronics, to devices for the conversion and storage of energy, to conformable biomedical devices for healthcare. To realize these applications, however, a low-cost method of synthesizing large areas of high-quality graphene is required. Currently, the only method to generate large-area single-layer graphene that is compatible with roll-to-roll manufacturing destroys approximately 300 kg of copper foil (thickness = 25 μm) for every 1 g of graphene produced. This paper describes a new environmentally benign and scalable process of transferring graphene to flexible substrates. The process is based on the preferential adhesion of certain thin metallic films to graphene; separation of the graphene from the catalytic copper foil is followed by lamination to a flexible target substrate in a process that is compatible with roll-to-roll manufacturing. The copper substrate is indefinitely reusable and the method is substantially greener than the current process that uses relatively large amounts of corrosive etchants to remove the copper. The sheet resistance of the graphene produced by this new process is unoptimized but should be comparable in principle to that produced by the standard method, given the defects observable by Raman spectroscopy and the presence of process-induced cracks. With further improvements, this green, inexpensive synthesis of single-layer graphene could enable applications in flexible, stretchable, and disposable electronics, low-profile and lightweight barrier materials, and in large-area displays and photovoltaic modules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number045301
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 30 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • CVD
  • Flexible electronics
  • Graphene
  • Green nanofabrication
  • Roll-to-roll processing
  • Transparent electrode

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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