‘Weekend Nanotech’ – They’re making graphene out of WHAT?!

By Elf Eldridge 15/09/2011 2

Just a quick post to point out some of the really amazing stuff going on right under our noses. Many of you will be familiar with graphene – the so-called ‘wonder material’ discovered originally in the leads of pencils (using sellotape – which gained the Nobel prize in Physics last year) with strange electrical and physical properties worthy of several blog posts on it’s own. However, current graphene synthesis techniques only make very small amount of graphene and consequently it’s now one of the most expensive materials available on our planet – largely because of the cost of the high-quality precursor material.

Figure 1
During the heating process the carbon from the carbon source (in this case the cockroach leg) atomises and then re-collects on the underside of the copper as an atomically thin layer of graphene.

What this group from Rice University did, is to show that under the right conditions (namely temperatures over 1000 degrees K under Hydrogen flow conditions) graphene can be grown from almost any organic matter. (By that I mean anything with a significant amount of carbon within it). They decided, for whatever reason, to show this in a rather dramatic fashion by creating graphene from Girl-Scout cookies, cockroaches and feces. The graphene they grew was high quality, easily removable from the copper substrate and just goes to show that you can make some incredible stuff from the most unlikely places.


G.Ruan et al “Growth of Graphene from Food, Insects and WasteACS Nano doi:10.1021/nn202625c

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