When graphene was first reported just six years ago one of the knocks against it was that it was difficult to produce in sufficient quantities to have a significant impact on commercial applications.
But now researchers from Rice University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have developed a new method for producing bulk quantities of graphene.
The researchers work has been published in the Journal Nature Nanotechnology and has demonstrated how the common industrial solvent chlorosulphonic acid can be used on graphite so that individual layers in the graphite peeled away spontaneously.
According to the lead co-author of the Nature article, Matteo Pasquali, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry at Rice University, this method produces a very pure material while employing the bulk fluid-processing techniques commonly used by the chemical industry.
The process produced two grams of graphene per liter of acid, which is a result that is about 10 times more concentrated than existing methods. With these concentrated solutions, the researchers were able to make transparent films that were electrically conductive.
By improving the production yield for graphene and being able to make transparent films from the results, the researchers see applications brightening for graphene in areas ranging from less expensive touch screens on smart phones to creating fibers that could strengthen composite materials.
Dexter Johnson is a contributing editor at IEEE Spectrum, with a focus on nanotechnology.