For all its possible applications in electronics, but also as an immensely strong material, graphene has always had one major drawback: it is expensive. With a price of around 175 euros for no more than a two inch square it is difficult to truly implement the prodigious material on a large scale. But this may soon change as Rice University graduate students have proven that graphene can be made out of any carbon source imaginable, not just pure graphite.
The paper published online by ACS Nano describes how the scientists managed to make graphene out of a wide variety of materials, including polystyrene plastic, grass, chocolate, dog faeces and a cockroach leg.
The method of carbon deposition on copper foil was actually nothing new, since it is the most frequently used method to create graphene. No matter what carbon source the researchers used, graphene formed on the opposite side of the copper foil as the carbon source decomposed. All it needs is about 15 minutes in a furnace flowing with hydrogen and argon gas at about 1,050 degrees Celsius.
With commercial parties all over graphene to scale up the production process, this find might speed up graphene’s mass production and implementation in consumer and industrial products.
© Jorn van Dooren | www.bitsofscience.org