How can graphene assist in the war on Coronavirus?

As researchers and companies all over the world set out to battle the Coronavirus pandemic, many are revisiting graphene as a material with potential for helping to win this fight. The reasons for such potential could be found in graphene's known antibacterial/antiviral properties, its beneficial traits for medical sensors and devices and more.

Graphene has been shown in the past as extremely useful for creating various sensors. Earlier this month, a team led by Boston College researchers used a sheet of graphene to track the electronic signals inherent in biological structures, in order to develop a platform to selectively identify deadly strains of bacteria. In October 2019, Rice University team under chemist James Tour transformed their laser-induced graphene (LIG) into self-sterilizing filters that grab pathogens out of the air and kill them with small pulses of electricity. Commercially sold graphene-based sensors exist, like the graphene oxide (GO) sensor developed by the ICN2 Nanobioelectronics and Biosensors group that was added in 2016 to the list products offered by Biolin Scientific, a prestigious instrumentation company devoted to the production of analytical devices. The Q-Sense GO sensor enables interaction studies of GO with various analytes (measured substances) of interest and may open the door to various applications with interest for diagnostics, safety/security and environmental monitoring.

New method produces graphene on surfaces for precise electronics applications

Scientists at Rice University, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT Knoxville) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have demonstrated the use of a very small visible beam to burn graphene into microscopic patterns.

Schematic of the method for finely creating graphene with a small laser imageScientists recorded the formation of laser-induced graphene made with a small laser mounted to a scanning electron microscope. Image credit: the Tour Group

The labs of Rice chemist James Tour, which discovered the original method to turn a common polymer into graphene in 2014, and Tennessee/ORNL materials scientist Philip Rack revealed they can now watch the conductive material form as it makes small traces of LIG in a scanning electron microscope (SEM).

Graphene shows excellent resistance to stress

Researchers from the University of Toronto have shown that graphene is highly resistant to fatigue and is able to withstand more than a billion cycles of high stress before it breaks.

The intrinsic strength of graphene has been measured at more than 100 gigapascals, among the highest values recorded for any material. But materials don't always fail because the load exceeds their maximum strength. Stresses that are small but repetitive can weaken materials by causing microscopic dislocations and fractures that slowly accumulate over time, a process known as fatigue.

Rice team transforms waste into graphene in a flash

A team of researchers at the Rice University lab of chemist James Tour has designed a ‘Green’ process that produces pristine graphene in bulk using waste food, plastic and other materials. According to the team, this process can help facilitate a reduction of the environmental impact of concrete and other building materials.

The new process can turn bulk quantities of just about any carbon source into graphene flakes. The process is quick and cheap; Tour said the “flash graphene” technique can convert a ton of coal, food waste or plastic into graphene for a fraction of the cost used by other bulk graphene-producing methods.

Rice team designs graphene-based air filter that grabs and zaps pathogens

Rice University team under chemist James Tour has transformed their laser-induced graphene (LIG) into self-sterilizing filters that grab pathogens out of the air and kill them with small pulses of electricity. This may be of special interest to hospitals, where according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, patients have a 1-in-31 chance of acquiring a potentially antibiotic-resistant infection during hospitalization.

Rice team creates self-sterilizing LIG air filters that show potential for use in hospitals image

The device reportedly captures bacteria, fungi, spores, prions, endotoxins and other biological contaminants carried by droplets, aerosols and particulate matter.

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