The team has turned graphene oxide (GO) into a soft, molding and blending dough that can be shaped and shaped into free-standing three-dimensional structures.
Called "GO dough," the product can be fun to play with, but it's more than a toy. The susceptible material solves several long-standing – and sometimes explosive – problems in graphene production.
"Currently, graphene oxide is stored as dry solids or powders that are prone to incineration," said Jiaxing Huang, who runs the study. "Or they must be converted into thin dispersions that multiply the mass of the material by hundreds or thousands."
Juan reported his last shipment of 5 kilograms of graphene oxide, which was scattered into 500 liters of liquid. "It had to be delivered in a truck," he said. "The same amount of graphene oxide in the test form would weigh about 10 pounds and I could wear it myself."
The study was published today (January 24th) in the magazine Nature Communications, Huang is a professor of material science and engineering at Northwestern McCormick Engineering School.
Graphene oxide, which is a product of graphite oxidation, is often used to make a graphite, thick layer of carbon with an atom that is remarkably strong, light and has potential for electronics and energy storage applications.
Just add water
Huang's team made a GO dough by adding an ultra-high concentration of graphene oxide to the water. If the team has used binders, they should further process the material to remove these additives to bring the graphene oxide back into its pure form.
"Adding binders like plastics can turn everything into a test," said Huang. "But these supplements often significantly change the properties of the material."
After shaping the structures, the dough can be turned into solid solids which are electrically conductive, chemically stable and mechanically rigid. Or, more water can be added to the dough to become a high-quality GO dispersion on demand. The dough can be further processed to obtain graphene oxides and graphite materials of various shapes with adjustable microstructures. Huang hopes that the easy use of GO-dough can help graphene to meet the expected potential as a super material.
"My dream is to turn the graphene-based leaves into widely available, easy-to-use engineering material, just like plastic, glass and steel," Juan said. "I hope the GO dough can help inspire new uses of graphite-based materials, and how dough to play can inspire the imagination and creativity of young children."
Northwest University, ,