World’s strongest material made cheaper and greener
Researchers from the National University of Singapore have developed a cost-effective and efficient method of producing graphene, the world’s strongest known material. Graphene is made of ultra-light sheets of carbon structured in a honeycomb lattice only one atom thick – about 200 times stronger than steel and a million times thinner than a human hair. A super-conductor, graphene has wide-reaching uses, such as in touch screens and fast-charging batteries. Traditionally, one tonne of environmentally unfriendly organic solvent was needed to separate graphene layers from graphite – a mineral made of many sheets of the two-dimensional material – but researchers found a way to use 50 times less solvent, making large-scale production cheaper and more efficient. The new method, which produces a graphene slurry made from clustered graphene layers, can also be used to 3D-print a lightweight and sponge-like aerogel that can clean up oil spills.
• A molecular honeycomb only one atom thick