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Graphene Technology

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Graphene Technology

Graphene is the simplest structural element of different allotropes of carbon (graphite, carbon nanotubes, diamond, etc.) and it is an atomic-scale honeycomb lattice made of carbon atoms. It is the world’s first 2D material and is one million times smaller than the diameter of a single human hair. As a single layer graphite, graphene has raised great interest due to its potential applications including inexpensive water purification systems; greener, more efficient cars and planes; flexible phones and solar cells, and biomedical applications such as wound healing and cancer treatments.

Graphene was first isolated from graphite by two researchers at The University of Manchester, Prof. Andre Geim and Prof. Kostya Novoselov in 2004, who were awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics “for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene”. Graphene has the potential to reshape the landscape of research in both academia and industry owing to its exceptional physical and chemical properties. For example, it is much stronger than steel, yet incredibly lightweight and flexible. It also provides exceptional electrical and thermal conductivity but it is transparent, which makes it ideal for countless electronic applications. In particular, its infrared (IR) response is characterized by long-lived collective electron oscillations (plasmons) that, unlike conventional material, can be dynamically tuned by electrostatic gating. Additionally, graphene demonstrates a large and nonlinear diamagnetism, which is more than that of graphite, and can be ascended by neodymium magnets.

Graphene sheets can be obtained by the reduction of graphene oxide (GO). Also, there exists a number of bottom up methods such as chemical vapor deposition, chemical conversion, arc discharge, epitaxial growth, unzipping of carbon nanotubes and self-assembling of surfactants to produce graphene sheets. Graphene oxide has hydrophilic functional groups (-OH, epoxide, -COOH) that promote the intercalation of water molecules into the gallery and the graphene sheets can be easily detached from each other by sonication, thus producing highly dispersible GO sheets in aqueous medium. These exfoliated GO sheets are usually used for different applications and/or are further functionalized to use for targeted applications.

Covalent functionalization of reduced graphene oxide platelets with diazonium salts. Reprinted from Ref 2.

The chemistry to functionalize graphene sheets includes both covalent and non-covalent functionalization compatible with either hydrophilic or hydrophobic substrate. In case of non-covalent functionalization of graphene sheet, the force between the attaching molecules and the graphene surface is weak so the covalent functionalization is certainly better in this regard. Using the rich chemistry of hydroxyl, carboxyl, and epoxy groups, GO is selected very often as the starting material for the covalent attachment of organic groups on its surface, e.g., porphyrins, phthalocyanines, and azobenzene have been covalently attached on the graphene surface exhibiting very interesting optoelectronic properties.

Hailed as a ‘wonder material’, graphene is set to improve the quality of life for many across the globe. Our scientists in the graphene research lab at Matexcel are dedicated to develop applications in below area:

• Applications of graphene in energy
• Applications of graphene in health care
• Graphene based nanocomposites
• Synthesis of shape-controllable 3D-graphene in nanotechnology
• Carbon nano chips and nanostructures
• Graphene nano in energy and storage

References:
1. Layek, Rama K., and Arun K. Nandi. “A review on synthesis and properties of polymer functionalized graphene.” Polymer 2013.
2. Loh, Kian Ping, et al. “The chemistry of graphene.” Journal of Materials Chemistry 2010.

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