World’s strong­est ma­te­rial made cheaper and greener

Southeast Asia Globe - - Next -

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

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