Australian scientists found an impressively cheap way to make graphene – an extraordinary material with amazing attributes. Cheap and quick production of graphene could hugely reduce the cost of making nanomaterials.
Australian researchers from Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation called this effective technique GraphAir Technology. It involves turning everyday cooking oil into graphene. The procedure is next: The oil is heated in a tube about 30 minutes, which caused decomposition into carbon building blocks. Then the carbon is quickly cooled on nickel foil where it disperses into graphene that’s 80 000 times thinner than the hair.
This achievement of Australian scientists overcome the biggest obstacle – the expensiveness of its production, which limited its use only in labs. One of the researchers, Zhao Juan Han, said: “This ambient-air process for graphene fabrication is fast, simple, safe, potentially scalable, and integration-friendly. We can now recycle waste oils that would have otherwise been discarded and transform them into something useful”
Discovered in 2004, graphene is a material with a unique combination of characteristics. Basically, it is a single, tightly packed layer of carbon atoms that are bonded together in a perfect hexagonal honeycomb lattice. Thanks, to its amazing features, allows being used in numerous applications in electronics, nanotechnology, medicine and biological devices.
Key features include:
- Strength – it is 200 times stronger than steel and represents the strongest material known to man. Add its elasticity to this – the picture is clear and the possibilities for applications are huge.
- Flexibility – as it’s only one atom thick, it is very flexible. For example, it can be extended up to 20% of its original length, which allows being used in wearable technology.
- Hardness – it is harder than diamond, considered as the hardest material
- Conductivity – thanks to the electrons that can move enormously fast, graphene can handle 1,000 times more current than regular material, even copper. This allows its limitless applications use.
- Transparency – thanks to its thin structure, it absorbs only 2 % of light. This feature is beneficial for some new types of technologies, such as satellite navigation systems build in the car, or TV builds into the window of the room.
- Acidity – high level of acidity allows almost everything to be attached on its surface enabling a precise targeting for drug delivery, which can be used in medicine, for example – cancer treatment.
Earlier production of graphene was very expensive and limited to lab uses. Now, when the scientists obtained a simple and economical way to make it, in the near future we can expect the burst of its use in our lives.