Graphene has shown significant promise—with potential applications in the biomedical, electrical, energy, and environmental spaces—and success has been seen in many small-scale applications.
But scaling up the production of graphene-based materials is problematic, and potentially dangerous, because graphene oxide, a flake-like intermediate for making graphene from graphite has been proven to possess a fire hazard.
Ryan Tian, associate professor of inorganic chemistry, and his team at the University of Arkansas set out to solve this problem.
“We started researching graphene about five years ago and realized that the entire field is talking about graphene’s flammability,” said Tian in an exclusive interview with R&D Magazine. “Graphene oxide once it becomes airborne is extremely explosive. I can tell from my industry experience in production lines that if anything potentially flammable is there, and once it becomes airborne it can be explosive, than the industry always hesitates to do it.”
Using metal ions with three or more positive charges, researchers in Tian’s laboratory bonded graphene-oxide flakes into a transparent membrane. This new form of carbon-polymer sheet is flexible, nontoxic and mechanically strong, in addition to being non-flammable. The research was published in The Journal of Physical Chemistry.
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