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Innovation By Design

Scientists Discover A Way To Create Graphene Using Common Kitchen Tools

Just mix some graphite powder with dish soap in a blender—and voila: graphene.

Scientists Discover A Way To Create Graphene Using Common Kitchen Tools

[Image: Flickr user CORE-Materials]

Graphene has been hailed as the wonder material that could revolutionize the electronics industry. It is among the lightest materials in the world, just an atom thick, but is 100 times stronger than steel. Commercial facilities have had trouble producing graphene at scale. Now, scientists in Ireland have discovered a way to create the material using common kitchen ingredients, a technique that could potentially produce graphene much faster than current methods.

After experimenting with different motors and solvents, a team of researchers at Trinity College Dublin found that combining graphite powder with dish soap in a kitchen blender can create graphene. However, knowing exactly how much dishwashing liquid to use depends on the properties of the graphite powder (e.g., size distribution of the grains, contaminants), which requires advanced laboratory equipment. Furthermore, not all the graphite powder will convert to graphene in this process, so there needs to be a way to separate the two materials as well.

"It is a fun experiment, but it wouldn't get you very far," Trinity's Jonathan Coleman told New Scientist. "You could make black liquid full of graphene, but what's the next step?"

But this makeshift way to create graphene has large implications for manufacturers and the electronics industry. Calculations by the scientists at Trinity suggest this technique could possibly produce 100 grams of graphene per hour in a commercial facility, compared with current techniques that produce less than half a gram per hour.