Nav: Home

The secret to 3-D graphene? Just freeze it

March 03, 2016

BUFFALO, N.Y. - Graphene is a wonder material saddled with great expectations.

Discovered in 2004, it is 1 million times thinner than a human hair, 300 times stronger than steel and it's the best known conductor of heat and electricity. These qualities could, among other things, make computers faster, batteries more powerful and solar panels more efficient.

But the material is tough to manipulate beyond its two-dimensional form.

Recently, scientists poured graphene oxide suspension, a gel-like form of the material, into freezing molds to create 3-D objects. The process works, but only with simple structures that have limited commercial applications.

Another option is to use a 3-D printer. In this scenario, scientists typically mix graphene with a polymer or other thickening agent. This helps keep the structure from falling apart. But when the polymer is removed via thermal process, it damages the delicate structure.

A research team - comprised of engineers from the University at Buffalo, Kansas State University and the Harbin Institute of Technology in China - may have solved that problem.

A study published Feb. 10 in the journal Small describes how the team used a modified 3-D printer and frozen water to create lattice-shaped cubes and a three-dimensional truss with overhangs using graphene oxide. The structures could be an important step toward making graphene commercially viable in electronics, medical diagnostic devices and other industries.

"Graphene is notoriously difficult to manipulate, but the structures we built show that it's possible to control its shape in three-dimensional forms," said Chi Zhou, assistant professor of industrial and systems engineering at UB's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and a corresponding author of the study.

Zhou is a member of the Sustainable Manufacturing and Advanced Robotic Technologies (SMART), a UB Community of Excellence launched in 2015; he also is a member of UB's New York State Center of Excellence in Materials Informatics.

In their experiments, the research team mixed the graphene oxide with water. They then printed the lattice framework on a surface of -25°C. The graphene is sandwiched between the layers of frozen ice, which act as a structural support.

After the process is completed, the lattice is dipped in liquid nitrogen, which helps form even stronger hydrogen bonds. The lattice is then placed in a freeze dryer, where the ice is changed into gas and removed. The end result is a complex, three-dimensional structure made of graphene aerogel that retains its shape at room temperature.

"By keeping the graphene in a cold environment, we were able to ensure that it retained the shape we designed. This is an important step toward making graphene a commercially viable material," said Dong Lin, assistant professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering at Kansas State University, and the study's other corresponding author.

The researchers plan to build on their findings by investigating how to create aerogel structures formed of multiple materials.
-end-
First authors of the study are Qiangqiang Zhang, a student at Harbin, and Feng Zhang, a student at UB. Contributing authors are Hui Li, a student at Harbin, and Sai Pradeep Medarametla, a student at Kansas State University.

The research team received support from Mark T. Swihart, UB Distinguished Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering, and Jonathan F. Lovell, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at UB. Both Swihart and Lovell are faculty members within UB's School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

University at Buffalo

Related Graphene Articles:

New 'brick' for nanotechnology: Graphene Nanomesh
Researchers at Japan advanced institute of science and technology (JAIST) successfully fabricated suspended graphene nanomesh (GNM) by using the focused helium ion beam technology.
Flatter graphene, faster electrons
Scientists from the Swiss Nanoscience Institute and the Department of Physics at the University of Basel developed a technique to flatten corrugations in graphene layers.
Graphene Flagship publishes handbook of graphene manufacturing
The EU-funded research project Graphene Flagship has published a comprehensive guide explaining how to produce and process graphene and related materials (GRMs).
How to induce magnetism in graphene
Graphene, a two-dimensional structure made of carbon, is a material with excellent mechani-cal, electronic and optical properties.
Graphene: The more you bend it, the softer it gets
New research by engineers at the University of Illinois combines atomic-scale experimentation with computer modeling to determine how much energy it takes to bend multilayer graphene -- a question that has eluded scientists since graphene was first isolated.
How do you know it's perfect graphene?
Scientists at the US Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory have discovered an indicator that reliably demonstrates a sample's high quality, and it was one that was hiding in plain sight for decades.
Graphene is 3D as well as 2D
Graphene is actually a 3D material as well as a 2D material, according to a new study from Queen Mary University of London.
How to purify water with graphene
Scientists from the National University of Science and Technology 'MISIS' together with their colleagues from Derzhavin Tambov State University and Saratov Chernyshevsky State University have figured out that graphene is capable of purifying water, making it drinkable, without further chlorination.
Decoupled graphene thanks to potassium bromide
The use of potassium bromide in the production of graphene on a copper surface can lead to better results.
1 + 1 does not equal 2 for graphene-like 2D materials
Physicists from the University of Sheffield have discovered that when two atomically thin graphene-like materials are placed on top of each other their properties change, and a material with novel hybrid properties emerges, paving the way for design of new materials and nano-devices.
More Graphene News and Graphene Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.