Researchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln found that coats of graphene are able to protect delicate nanostructures from high temperatures.
The scientists have shown that graphene makes nanostructures thermally stable, which means it expands their working range of temperatures. They established that graphene protects nanostructures based on cobalt and titanium, metals that feature significantly different physical and chemical properties. Their results suggest that graphene might be employed to also protect other metallic (and possibly nonmetallic) materials that might be used in nanotechnology.
In their work, the researchers grew graphene coats onto nanostructures by exposing them to acetylene. The acetylene decomposes on nanostructure surfaces at elevated temperatures, yielding carbon atoms that temporarily dissolve into a metal before rising to its surface and forming the hexagonal pattern of graphene. The natural elasticity of graphene allowed the researchers to grow it on both 2D and 3D nanostructures, so it can actually cover any shape or form.
The researchers say their discovery can benefit optical sensors and many different forms of nanotechnology.