Researchers at MIT have found a way to directly “pinprick” microscopic holes into graphene as the material is grown in the lab. Using this technique, they have fabricated relatively large sheets of graphene (roughly the size of a postage stamp), with pores that could make filtering certain molecules out of solutions vastly more efficient.
Holes would typically be considered unwanted defects, but the MIT team has found that certain defects in graphene can be an advantage in fields such as dialysis. Typically, much thicker polymer membranes are used in laboratories to filter out specific molecules from solution, such as proteins, amino acids, chemicals, and salts. If it could be tailored with selectively-sized pores that let through certain molecules but not others, graphene could substantially improve separation membrane technology.