Amartya Chakrabarti holds up a sample of grapheme produced via the dry-ice method. Photo: Northern Illinois Univ.
Scientists at Northern Illinois Univ. say they have
discovered a simple method for producing high yields of graphene.
The focus of intense scientific research in recent years,
graphene is a two-dimensional material, comprised of a single layer of carbon
atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice. It is the strongest material ever
measured and has other remarkable qualities, including high electron mobility,
a property that elevates its potential for use in high-speed nanoscale devices
of the future.
In the Journal of
Materials Chemistry, the NIU researchers report on a new method that
converts carbon dioxide directly into few-layer graphene (less than 10 atoms in
thickness) by burning pure magnesium metal in dry ice.
“It is scientifically proven that burning magnesium metal in
carbon dioxide produces carbon, but the formation of this carbon with few-layer
graphene as the major product has neither been identified nor proven as such
until our current report,” said Narayan Hosmane, a professor of chemistry and
biochemistry who leads the NIU research group.
“The synthetic process can be used to potentially produce
few-layer graphene in large quantities,” he said. “Up until now, graphene has
been synthesized by various methods utilizing hazardous chemicals and tedious
techniques. This new method is simple, green, and cost effective.”
Hosmane said his research group initially set out to produce
single-wall carbon nanotubes. “Instead, we isolated few-layer graphene,” he
said. “It surprised us all.”
“It’s a very simple technique that’s been done by scientists
before,” added Amartya Chakrabarti, first author of the communication to the Journal of Materials Chemistry and an
NIU post-doctoral research associate in chemistry and biochemistry. “But nobody
actually closely examined the structure of the carbon that had been produced.”
Other members of the research group include former NIU
physics postdoctoral research associate Jun Lu, NIU undergraduate student
Jennifer Skrabutenas, NIU chemistry and biochemistry professor Tao Xu, NIU physics
professor Zhili Xiao, and John A. Maguire, a chemistry professor at Southern