Melbourne: Researchers have found a faster, scalable method to develop few-layer graphene for use in energy storage and other material applications.
Graphene is a thin atomic layer of graphite (used in pencils) with numerous properties that could be valuable in a variety of applications, including medicine, electronics and energy.
Discovered only 11 years ago, graphene is one of the strongest materials in the world, highly conductive, flexible, and transparent.
However, current methods for production currently require toxic chemicals and lengthy and cumbersome processes that result in low yield that is not scalable for commercial applications.
The study describing the new one-step, high-yield generation was published by a collaborative team that included Jeffrey Gordon of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) and Hui Tong Chua's group at the University of Western Australia (UWA, Perth).
Their ultra-bright lamp-ablation method surmounts the shortcomings and has succeeded in synthesising four to five layer graphene in higher yields.
It involves a novel optical system (originally invented by Daniel Feuermann and Jeffrey Gordon from BGU) that reconstitutes the immense brightness within the plasma of high-power xenon discharge lamps at a remote reactor, where a transparent tube filled with simple, inexpensive graphite is irradiated.
The process is relatively faster, safer and green - devoid of any toxic substances (just graphite plus concentrated light), the researchers said.
Following this proof of concept, the BGU-UWA team is now planning an experimental programme to scale up this initial success toward markedly improving the volume and rate at which few-layer (and eventually single-layer) graphene can be synthesised.
The study was published in the journal Carbon.