Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have determined that graphene is safe for neurons and non-neuronal cells and has long-term biocompatibility — opening the door for use in devices that interface with the nervous system. Following this new finding, the research team will begin to use graphene with different types of tissues to better understand cell physiology.
In a separate study, the team also found it was possible to grow graphene “fuzz”: a special kind of graphene in 3D. This was achieved by first creating a mesh of nanowires made of silicon, which acted as a surface for the graphene to grow on. Then, the team exposed the mesh to methane plasma, which resulted in carbon separating from the methane and depositing onto the mesh, forming graphene. After using various levels of methane plasma and letting the mesh “cook” for various lengths of time, the research team began to see tiny flakes or “fuzz” of graphene growing off the surface of the silicon nanowires. Unlike previous studies, the graphene was reportedly growing in three dimensions.
“Until this study, all of the graphene that people have grown are pinned to a surface — it exposes 2D topology, and you don’t get the advantage of high surface-to-volume ratio that one could achieve if it were grown in 3D,” the researchers said. “High surface-to-volume is necessary to make thin-film supercapacitors that can be used in miniaturized circuits.”