Researchers at Cranfield University and the University of Cambridge in the UK, Institut Pasteur in France, Silesian University of Technology in Poland and UniversIti Teknologi PETRONAS in Malaysia have found that at a particular size (below 1-micron lateral size), it is possible to achieve amphiphilic behaviour in graphene. This graphene flake attracts water at its edges but repels it on its surface, making it a new generation of surfactant that can stabilize oil and water mixtures.
In a statement, Krzysztof Koziol, Professor of Composites Engineering and Head of the Enhanced Composites and Structures Centre at Cranfield University said, “This new finding, and clear experimental demonstration of surfactant behavior of graphene, has exciting possibilities for many industrial applications. We produced pristine graphene flakes, without application of any surface treatment, at a specific size which can stabilize water/oil emulsions even under high pressure and high temperature... Unlike traditional surfactants which degrade and are often corrosive, graphene opens new level of material resistance, can operate at high pressures, combined with high temperatures and even radiation conditions; and we can recycle it. Graphene has the potential to become a truly high-performance surfactant.”