Scientists have developed a method to make commercially usable disks of graphene, the strongest and lightest known compound to man. The new technique uses cheap and widely available soda-lime glass and was published in Advanced Materials.
Graphene is an extraordinary compound. Discovered in 2004, the mere atom thick carbon is 207 times stronger than steel, an excellent conductor of heat and electricity, and is nearly transparent. While many people believe it's successful commercial use could be change the world, it's potential is inhibited by its being extremely difficult to produce, particularly in large-area and high-quality graphene sheets.
Professor Liu Zhongfan, of the College of Chemistry and Molecular Engineering, and his team, broke through some of this barrier in 2014, with a proposed direct chemical vapor deposition (CVD) growth of graphene on solid dielectric substrates. Previously, synthesis of large area graphene had to go through a tedious and disruptive transfer process to detach the underlying metal substrates.
Liu’s group's latest research has taken this method further. They are growing graphene on a cheap, widely used glass called soda-lime glass. Researchers first melt the glass to produce a molten bed. In the next step, they allow graphene film to be grown on the molten glasses. The resulting graphene disk is uniform, continuous and could be used in small heating devices. This transparent sheet looks from its appearance like a thin piece of glass.
The article can be found at: Chen et al. (2015) Growing Uniform Graphene Disks and Films on Molten Glass for Heating Devices and Cell Culture.