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How to Make Graphene from Pencils and Washing Liquid

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_74372981_c0205666-graphene_structure,_artwork-splThere is not a single week that passes without the magic word, graphene, making its presence in the news. Ever since the discovery of the material, researchers and engineers continuously show new properties and even more uses for it.

Yet, scientists are still looking for a cheap and effective way to produce defect-free graphene, as an alternative to the chemical vapour deposition that is currently giving the industry quite a bit of trouble. Have they found it? An UK-Irish team of scientists claim they have. And they only needed some cheap pencils, a kitchen blender, washing-up liquid and some water. Here is the story.

We have extensively covered many of graphene’s incredible applications in the fields of renewable energy and green technologies, from solar cells, to batteries, to green fuel, all the way to green electronics. The super strong, single-atom-thick pure carbon material, will probably not give you super-powers, as we told you some days ago, but for certain it has the potential to completely transform almost every sector of every industry. Needless to say, this is the reason, or more like the super incentive, that researchers have to go beyond their means and find the best way to produce pure graphene, without any defects and in sufficient amounts.

Published in Nature Materials just a few days ago, a new study by scientists from Trinity Collage Dublin and University of Oxford, showed that it might not be all that difficult to make it, and this is surely without the need of expensive equipment and materials. The team took graphite powder, just as the one we can make ourselves out of a pencil, placed it into a blender, added washing-up liquid and some water, and switched the thing on.  The result– perfect and undamaged layers of graphene, thanks to the rapid rotation that occurs inside the blender.

OK, it is not recommended that we all now go and try this ourselves using our cooking equipment. Unfortunately, it is not that simple yet, as the amount of washing-up liquid that is needed is determined by too many factors that have to be considered first. But the scientists are convinced that the process could be simplified even further, bringing the material even closer to being used on a commercial scale.

Image (c) Science Photo Library

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