Researchers use ordinary camera flash to create graphene

The production of graphene has just become a whole lot easier. Northwestern University scientists have demonstrated that graphite oxide can be converted instantly to graphene by exposing the material to a pulse of light from an ordinary camera flash.

The production of graphene has just become a whole lot easier. Northwestern University scientists have demonstrated that graphite oxide can be converted instantly to graphene by exposing the material to a pulse of light from an ordinary camera flash.

Laura J. Cote, Rodolfo Cruz-Silva, and Jiaxing Huang of Northwestern report an instantaneous, chemical-free way to transform graphite oxide, an electrical insulator, into graphene, a conductor, at room temperature. The photographic camera flash instantaneously triggers the deoxygenation reaction of GO by photothermal heating.

The team also demonstrated that by applying a photo masking and photolithography methods, the flash technique can be used to fabricate complex patterns, such as interdigitated electrode arrays for electronic components.

They picked graphite oxide because of its low cost and wide availability, which makes it a promising precursor for making graphene-based materials. They add that, typically, the substance is treated at high temperature or with potent reducing agents such as hydrazine to yield graphene.

Graphene is the one atom-thick wonder material that may some day replace silicon in electronics. Until recently, it has been difficult to produce. Andre Geim, a physicist at the University of Manchester, England, and his team are credited with being the first to reduce graphite fragments down to single atom-thick layer back in 2004. That method was status quo until scientists found more efficient ways to produce graphene. But none match the speed of the camera flash.

Sources: Chemical and Engineering News (with video), American Chemical Society

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