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Researchers from the Institute for Frontier Materials, led by Dr Ludovic Dumée, have developed a new, highly efficient method of preparing porous and reduced graphene oxide.
Porous graphene materials are attracting great interest for their potential applications in sensing, energy storage, membrane separation, biological sequencing, composite materials and nano-electronics. These materials combine high surface area and pore volume with graphene’s inherent properties of high electronic conductivity, thermal stability and mechanical strength.
The new technique, which uses gamma irradiation, offers great promise for the mass production of reduced graphene from cheap graphene oxide and a significant advantage over previously reported graphene oxide solution reduction mechanisms.
Reduced graphene oxide is important for use as advanced platforms for application in nano-electronics, biomedical and separation sciences and as reinforcement in composite materials or surfactant for the dispersion of nano-particles.
Dr Dumée, whose research focuses on environmental sustainability through the development of novel nano-materials for water desalination, industrial waste purification and gas separation, is investigating development of new routes to use graphene as a growth substrate for the formation of nano-scale networks.
Using facilities at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) and working with researchers there to test different levels of irradiation, Dr Dumée was able to find a dose which increased the surface porosity to 33.5% - the largest graphene oxide surface porosity reported to date.
The technique is performed solely with gamma-irradiation without any chemicals or catalysts and therefore no waste streams. Unlike chemically reduced graphene oxide, this method does not lead to major morphological changes in the material.
The research shows that gamma-irradiation is a highly promising method for simultaneously and efficiently perforating and reducing large surface areas of pre-formed graphene-based materials, opening a new route to the fabrication of complex graphene structures from cheap graphene oxide precursors. Potential applications may include molecular sieving separation, surface adsorption and nano-electronics, and use as platform materials for building complex graphene nano-structures, which require narrow nano-scale pore size distributions.
The paper in the journal Carbon can be viewed at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.carbon.2013.12.094
More information – Dr Ludovic Dumée: email@example.com