New Way for Mass Production of High Grade Synthetic Graphene

New Way for Mass Production of High Grade Synthetic Graphene

A new way to separate sheets of graphene from graphite has been developed, thanks to a 10-dollar bet that Thomas E. Mallouk, a professor from Penn State, made with colleague Nina Kovtyukhova. The development could pave way for mass production of high grade synthetic graphene, which is only one atom thick and 200 times stronger than steel.

Mallouk betted research associate Nina Kovtyukhova $100 against $10 that she could devise a way to split a nanoscale sheet of graphene away from graphite. Mallouk won the bet.

Graphene has high strength, light weight, and unique electronic properties, making it the best candidate for next generation solar cells, EV batteries, wind batteries and many other electronic gadgets.

A lattice of carbon atoms is present in graphene, which makes it less expensive. However, the problem with graphene is the fact that its sheets don’t exist in nature, so there is a need to make them. The new Penn State synthetic graphene method produces high-quality sheets of graphene on an industrial scale with the help of a process called intercalation.

Intercalation is known as a process that involves placing ions or molecules between sheets of graphite. The process was first discovered in 1841, but strong oxidizers or reducers were required in early techniques. As a result, many unique properties of the substance were lost during the procedure.

Researcher Nina Kovtyukhova developed a unique way of achieving intercalation using oxygen in 1999. She then later found that the process also functioned to open up layers in boron nitride. After conducting further experiments, it was discovered that the effect took place even in the absence of the oxidizer.

Kovtyukhova faced a challenge from Mallouk to split graphite sheets of graphene without the use of an oxidizer.

“If the reaction didn't work I would owe her $100, and if it did she would owe me $10. I have the ten dollar bill on my wall with a nice Post-it note from Nina complimenting my chemical intuition”, Mallouk said in the paper published in journal Nature.

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