Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors

Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button

Home > Press > Water lilies inspire scientists to create large-scale graphene films

Abstract:
In the world of nanomaterials, scientists and engineers can create new structures with tiny building blocks as small as one billionth of a meter.

But in order to construct new materials and devices, researchers first need to understand how these tiny units interact with each other.

Water lilies inspire scientists to create large-scale graphene films

Chicago, IL | Posted on January 29th, 2009

One such building block is graphite oxide, which is often used to make graphene — a hotly studied material that scientists believe could be used to produce low-cost carbon-based transparent and flexible electronics. Like graphene, graphite oxide is essentially a sheet that is only one atom thick, but can be as wide as tens of micrometers.

Jiaxing Huang, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Northwestern University, and his research group at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science set out to investigate how these graphite-oxide sheets assemble. Their results, published as the cover article in the Jan. 26 issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society, surprised them.

"We were very curious how these extremely thin two-dimensional sheets interact with each other," Huang says. "This knowledge can also help to prepare better graphene thin films."

Huang and his group studied the sheets by putting them onto a water surface — a process called Langmuir-Blodgett assembly, which makes the sheets stay flat and allows scientists to move them around.

The effect reminded the researchers of water lilies on a pond, and Huang asked his sister to help to create a Chinese water painting similar to that of Claude Monet's series of paintings "Water Lilies" to demonstrate the idea. The artwork was chosen as one of the first illustrated covers for the 130-year-old journal.

Researchers used a barrier to push the sheets together to see how they would interact and then "fished" the interacting sheets off the water surface using glass slides or silicon wafers. Huang and his colleagues expected to see that individual sheets had stacked one upon the other, like a shuffled deck of cards. Instead they found that the edges of the graphite oxide sheets rumpled as they were pushed together.

"This was quite a surprise for us," Huang says. "Now we understand that electrostatic repulsion is the dominant interaction when these sheets are pushed together in this edge-to-edge geometry. This prevents graphite oxide layers from overlapping with each other."

When squeezed even further, the sheets eventually formed an interlocking structure that becomes a continuous membrane.

This film — consisting of flat, non-overlapping single layers tiling over large areas — has been very difficult to achieve by conventional thin-film processing techniques such as drop casting or spraying.

This breakthrough could have two immediate technological impacts. "Because we can keep them close to each other and still keep them flat, it provides high coverage of the surface with the single layers — which in turn will translate into high successful yield in graphene device fabrication," Huang says. "On the other hand, the continuous graphite oxide monolayer can be made into a transparent conductor after conversion to graphene."

Now, after studying how they interact edge-to-edge, Huang hopes to study face-to-face contact of the graphene-based materials. Stacking graphene sheets directly on top of each other will form graphite and lose the advantages of the single-atom-thick graphene materials. But Huang hopes to find a way to stack graphene without making graphite, which could create functional materials for energy-related applications such as electrodes for batteries, ultracapacitors and fuel cells.

"If we are good at making these tiny building blocks and if we can control how they assemble, we will create a lot of wonderful new things," Huang says.

In addition to Huang, co-authors of the paper include National Science Foundation graduate research fellow Laura Cote and postdoctoral fellow Franklin Kim, both of whom, according to Huang, "did a wonderful job" to create the high-quality graphite oxide sheets used in the experiment.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Kyle Delaney

847-467-4010

Copyright © Northwestern University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

A step closer to understanding quantum mechanics: Swansea University’s physicists develop a new quantum simulation protocol October 22nd, 2017

Creation of coherent states in molecules by incoherent electrons October 21st, 2017

Strange but true: turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer October 20th, 2017

Leti Coordinating Project to Develop Innovative Drivetrains for 3rd-generation Electric Vehicles: CEA Tech’s Contribution Includes Liten’s Knowhow in Magnetic Materials and Simulation And Leti’s Expertise in Wide-bandgap Semiconductors October 20th, 2017

Discoveries

A step closer to understanding quantum mechanics: Swansea University’s physicists develop a new quantum simulation protocol October 22nd, 2017

Creation of coherent states in molecules by incoherent electrons October 21st, 2017

Novel 'converter' heralds breakthrough in ultra-fast data processing at nanoscale: Invention bagged four patents and could potentially make microprocessor chips work 1,000 times faster October 20th, 2017

Strange but true: turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer October 20th, 2017

Announcements

A step closer to understanding quantum mechanics: Swansea University’s physicists develop a new quantum simulation protocol October 22nd, 2017

Creation of coherent states in molecules by incoherent electrons October 21st, 2017

Strange but true: turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer October 20th, 2017

Leti Coordinating Project to Develop Innovative Drivetrains for 3rd-generation Electric Vehicles: CEA Tech’s Contribution Includes Liten’s Knowhow in Magnetic Materials and Simulation And Leti’s Expertise in Wide-bandgap Semiconductors October 20th, 2017

Energy

New nanomaterial can extract hydrogen fuel from seawater: Hybrid material converts more sunlight and can weather seawater's harsh conditions October 4th, 2017

Researchers set time limit for ultrafast perovskite solar cells September 22nd, 2017

Copper catalyst yields high efficiency CO2-to-fuels conversion: Berkeley Lab scientists discover critical role of nanoparticle transformation September 20th, 2017

Solar-to-fuel system recycles CO2 to make ethanol and ethylene: Berkeley Lab advance is first demonstration of efficient, light-powered production of fuel via artificial photosynthesis September 19th, 2017

Battery Technology/Capacitors/Generators/Piezoelectrics/Thermoelectrics/Energy storage

Strange but true: turning a material upside down can sometimes make it softer October 20th, 2017

On the road to fire-free, lithium-ion batteries made with asphalt October 12th, 2017

Organic/inorganic sulfur may be key for safe rechargeable lithium batteries October 12th, 2017

How to draw electricity from the bloodstream: A one-dimensional fluidic nanogenerator with a high power-conversion efficiency September 11th, 2017

Fuel Cells

Hydrogen power moves a step closer: Physicists are developing methods of creating renewable fuel from water using quantum technology September 15th, 2017

More durable, less expensive fuel cells: University of Delaware researchers have developed a new technology that could speed up the commercialization of fuel cell vehicles September 5th, 2017

Engineers pioneer platinum shell formation process – and achieve first-ever observation August 11th, 2017

Argonne National Laboratory’s Continuous ALD Technology Licensed Exclusively to Forge Nano July 7th, 2017

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More











ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project