Mapping crystal shapes could fast-track mass production of 2D materials

Materials scientists at Rice University and the University of Pennsylvania have published an article calling for a collective, global effort to fast-track the mass production of 2D materials like graphene and molybdenum disulfide.

Learning from the Nakaya diagram could further 2D materials production image

In their perspective article, journal editor-in-chief Jun Lou and colleagues make a case for a focused, collective effort to address the research challenges that could clear the way for large-scale mass production of 2D materials.

Researchers come up with a promising new design for graphene-enhanced fuel cells

Researchers at University College London, Queen Mary University of London and Humboldt Universität zu Berlin have suggested a design for a hydrogen fuel cell, with graphene as a key component. The new research promises to address some of the roadblocks that have thus far hindered the development of this clean, non-toxic, renewable technology, thus opening up hydrogen fuel cells as a potential clean-energy breakthrough.

At the moment the US Department of Energy estimates that the cost of energy generated by hydrogen fuel cells is around $61 per kilowatt. The ultimate aim is to get this down to $30 per kilowatt. The scaling up in the production of graphene-coated nanoparticles suggested in the paper could help significantly in this quest. The team’s findings could also extend beyond the field of fuel cells, lending itself to some exciting technological applications.

New graphene-based memory device could extend smartphone battery life and increase data upload speed

Researchers at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering have created a graphene-based memory device which promises to increase data upload speed, extend smartphone battery life, and reduce data corruption. The team did this through a concept called the ferroelectric tunneling junction (FTJ).

This new memory device is part of a family known as non-volatile memory devices, meaning they can be unplugged and still retain their data, much like cell phone memory and USB flash drives. Unlike current FTJ devices, this device is comprised of asymmetric metal and semi-metallic graphene materials.

Researchers show the amphipathic nature of graphene flakes and examine their potential for use as surfactant

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.”

Rice University team aims to improve wastewater treatment using nanospheres wrapped in graphene oxide

Researchers at Rice University design a "shield" made of graphene oxide, that helps particles destroy antibiotic-resistant bacteria and free-floating antibiotic resistance genes in wastewater treatment plants.

 A shield of graphene helps particles destroy antibiotic-resistant bacteria and free-floating antibiotic resistance genes in wastewater treatment plants image

The labs of Rice environmental scientist Pedro Alvarez and Yalei Zhang, a professor of environmental engineering at Tongji University, Shanghai, introduced these microspheres wrapped in graphene oxide. Alvarez and his partners in the Rice-based Nanosystems Engineering Research Center for Nanotechnology-Enabled Water Treatment (NEWT) have worked toward quenching antibiotic-resistant "superbugs" since first finding them in wastewater treatment plants in 2013.