A simple and scalable method for converting graphene oxide into a non-flammable and paper-like graphene membrane capable of being used in large-scale production has been discovered by the University of Arkansas.
Due to their mechanical strength and excellent charge and heat conductivities, graphene-based materials have generated enormous excitement. But high flammability jeopardizes the material's promise for large-scale manufacturing and wide applications.
Ryan Tian, associate professor of inorganic chemistry in the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences
The extremely high flammability of graphene is considered to be a hindrance to further development and commercialization. However, with this new discovery it is now possible to mass-produce graphene and graphene membranes in order to enhance a host of products ranging from solar cells to fuel cells to sensors and supercapacitors. Tian holds a provisional patent for this new discovery.
Researchers in Tian's laboratory used metal ions with three or more positive charges to attach graphene-oxide flakes into a transparent membrane. This new type of carbon-polymer sheet is mechanically strong, nontoxic and flexible, besides being non-flammable.
Additional testing of the material established that bonding, or crosslinking, using rare-earth metals and transition metals, resulted in the graphene oxide comprising of new optical, magnetic and semiconducting properties.
For the past 10 years, scientists concentrated on graphene, a two-dimensional material that is a single atom in thickness, because it is one of the lightest, strongest and most conductive materials known. It is for these reasons that graphene and other similar two-dimensional materials have great potential to substitute for standard semiconductors. Graphene oxide is a common intermediate for graphene-derived materials produced from graphite and graphene. Graphite is a crystalline form of carbon.
Hulusi Turgut, doctoral student in the U of A microelectronics-photonics program and the Institute for Nanoscience and Engineering, conducted the research. Fengjiao Yu and Wuzong Zhou, from the University of St. Andrews in the United Kingdom, executed a part of the material's characterization.
The outcomes were published by the researchers in The Journal of Physical Chemistry. The University of Arkansas patented this intellectual property.