A collaborative project between Singapore and UK researchers has revealed another useful property of graphene; it can offer protection from laser pulses.
Scientists at the National University of Singapore, DSO Laboratories and the University of Cambridge were investigating ways of blocking graphene’s natural tendency to stack and form the more familiar graphite – that’s pencil lead to you and me.
What they found was that when they attached alkyl chains (chains of carbon and hydrogen) to the surfaces of the graphene sheets, they stopped stacking. A nice result.
But when the scientists then processed the material in solution they discovered something else. It also demonstrated a giant non-linear optical absorption response to pulsed lasers. Or, in less intimidating language: it absorbed some of the energy of a powerful laser beam, and it did so more efficiently than a suspension of carbon black or carbon nanotubes.
The researchers say such optical limiting materials can protect sensitive sensors from laser damage, in anti-glare treatments, or in optical circuits.
The research is published in Nature Photonics here.