graphene was originally discovered by researchers at the university of manchester by using sticky tape and peeling away individual layers of graphite. since its discovery, graphene has been a topic of discussion for researchers across the globe who want to harness the material’s innate properties for a variety of applications.
the one mitigating factor for graphene was the need to create a method for producing the material on larger scales. researchers from the australian national university may have developed a process that will meet that challenge.
scientists created a process for producing graphene that uses a designer surfactant, based on benzoxazine, which suspends graphene and links it together to form a polymer, according to a report on the university’s website.
this makes the manufacturing of graphene much easier and could open a new pathway to the production of nanocomposites that are used in the biomedical, aerospace, and automotive industries.
the researched was published in advanced materials interface in the spring. the abstract of the report read:
“those surfactants which are easily synthesized, eco-friendly, low cost, and able to produce high yields of graphene are crucial for large-scale graphene manufacture and targeted applications of graphene. this study reports a curable surfactant based on benzoxazine that assists in both the exfoliation process in water with high yield as well as stabilizes the pristine graphene sheets against reaggregation.
“freestanding and flexible graphene films are prepared through filtration and subsequent curing of the thermosetting benzoxazine surfactant at a moderate temperature, resulting in high strength as well as high electrical conductivity. furthermore, graphene films loaded with this curable surfactant are easily transferred onto various substrates.
“the affinity of the graphene films with the substrate materials has been promoted by the thermal treatment to cure the surfactant. once cured, the graphene film is highly durable and chemically resistant. in addition, the nature of the benzoxazine resin based surfactant endows this graphene film with excellent biocompatibility.”
the new process, named pristine graphene, could have wide-ranging implications including in the thermal management sphere. graphene could be used as a phase-change material due to its high thermal and electrical conductivity. while graphene has been considered too expensive for commercial applications, this process could see it become a more cost-effective alternative.
the potential applications for pristine graphene are explored at http://www.manmonthly.com.au/features/australian-research-help-manufacturers-beat-heat-graphene.