[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Skip to Main Content

Latest News

Advertise Here
August 08, 2011
Volume 89, Number 32
p. 13

Graphene From Garbage

Materials: Low-value, impure carbon sources yield high-quality graphene

Mitch Jacoby

Rice University
GRAPHENE FROM COOKIES Houston girls scouts spend a day at Rice University participating in experiments that turn Girl Scout shortbread cookies into graphene.
  • Print this article
  • Email the editor

Latest News

October 28, 2011

Speedy Homemade-Explosive Detector

Forensic Chemistry: A new method could increase the number of explosives detected by airport screeners.

Solar Panel Makers Cry Foul

Trade: U.S. companies complain of market dumping by China.

Novartis To Cut 2,000 Jobs

Layoffs follow similar moves by Amgen, AstraZeneca.

Nations Break Impasse On Waste

Environment: Ban to halt export of hazardous waste to developing world.

New Leader For Lawrence Livermore

Penrose (Parney) Albright will direct DOE national lab.

Hair Reveals Source Of People's Exposure To Mercury

Toxic Exposure: Mercury isotopes in human hair illuminate dietary and industrial sources.

Why The Long Fat?

Cancer Biochemistry: Mass spectrometry follows the metabolism of very long fatty acids in cancer cells.

Text Size A A

Cookies, waste, and even a cockroach leg (top) turn into graphene, as seen in the TEM image (bottom), by heating the carbon source on copper foil in flowing gas. ACS Nano (both)
Cookies, waste, and even a cockroach leg (top) turn into graphene, as seen in the TEM image (bottom), by heating the carbon source on copper foil in flowing gas.

Garbage and other low-value materials make excellent starting materials for high-quality graphene, according to a study by Rice University chemists in ACS Nano (DOI: 10.1021/nn202625c). The report describes a straightforward procedure to convert inexpensive sources of carbon—even “negative value” materials such as dog feces—to ultrathin films of pure carbon.

Graphene’s large collection of outstanding mechanical, electronic, thermal, and other properties have prompted many scientists to search for ways to prepare large sheets of this often one-atom-thin form of carbon. Several chemical vapor deposition methods do that job well, but they generally require expensive substrates on which to grow graphene and/or reagents such as methane, acetylene, and organic solids that must be purified before use.

The Rice team, led by James M. Tour, has shown that there’s no need to use costly purified starting materials to grow graphene. The team, which also includes Gedeng Ruan, Zhengzong Sun, and Zhiwei Peng, prepared graphene from feces, grass, a cockroach leg, bulk polystyrene, chocolate, and Girl Scout cookies.

In all cases, the group placed a solid sample on copper foil in a quartz boat and briefly heated the material to 1,050 °C under a low-pressure hydrogen-argon flow. The team reports that residues containing several elements remained on the sample side of the foil after heat treatment. On the back side, however, they found pristine and nearly defect-free graphene, as judged from analyses based on Raman, UV-visible, and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopies and microscopy analysis.

“These results show convincingly that large-scale high-quality graphene can be grown from impure carbon sources with low or negative values,” says Changgan Zeng of the University of Science & Technology of China, Hefei. “This is quite amazing, since we usually assume that high-quality graphene requires pure carbon sources,” Zeng says. He adds that “the idea is brilliant,” but the mechanism by which graphene forms on the back of the foil is still unknown.

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2011 American Chemical Society
  • Print this article
  • Email the editor

Services & Tools

ACS Resources

ACS is the leading employment source for recruiting scientific professionals. ACS Careers and C&EN Classifieds provide employers direct access to scientific talent both in print and online. Jobseekers | Employers

» Join ACS

Join more than 161,000 professionals in the chemical sciences world-wide, as a member of the American Chemical Society.
» Join Now!