Women in Nanoscience


Women in Nano Blog

The "dreaming spires"of Oxford produce faster, better graphene

Posted on July 25, 2015 at 7:45 PM

Graphene has been the "it material" since its discovery in 2003 for its unusual strength, flexibility, high electrical conductivity, and chemical resistance. While the world's first graphene sheet was produced by using scotch-tape and other intriguing methods have involved kitchen blenders and pestle and mortar, graphene is mostly produced by a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) process. However, the current CVD process is not cost-effective, and cannot produce graphene at large scale and fast enough, which would be a major hurdle against employing graphene in new technologies.


Nicole Grobert, a professor in the department of materials at the University of Oxford, recently invented an improved CVD process that shows great promise for the large-scale production of graphene. In the current CVD process, gases containing carbon flow through a chamber where they react with substrates like copper to form graphene. Grobert and her research team used a thin film of silica to deposit on a platinum foil and heated the material to create a layer of platinum silicide. This new layer has a low melting point, which allows it to create a thin liquid layer on the platinum foil. The liquid layer smooths out nanoscale defects in the platinum and facilitates the reaction to form large flakes of graphene. Using this method, Grobert's team showed that they can grow 2-3 mm sized graphene flakes in 15 minutes, compared to the 19 hours that would take by the current CVD process. Detail of this work were published in Nature Communications on July 15, 2015.


Grobert's research focuses on developing synthesis, processing and characterization tools for novel nanomaterials. She is the Vice-Chairman of the British Carbon Group and is a member of the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering working group on nanotechnology. She also holds an invited membership of the New York Academy of Sciences and the 21st Century's Centre of Excellence Programme on Bioscience and Nanotechnology.

- Written by Eugene Choi, Edited by Paulette Clancy

Categories: WINnews

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