Rice University scientists have made wood into an electrical conductor by turning its surface into graphene.
Rice chemist James Tour and his colleagues used a laser to blacken a thin film pattern onto a block of pine. The pattern is laser-induced graphene (LIG), a form of the atom-thin carbon material discovered at Rice in 2014.
“It’s a union of the archaic with the newest nanomaterial into a single composite structure,” Tour said.
The discovery is detailed this month in Advanced Materials.
Previous iterations of LIG were made by heating the surface of a sheet of polyimide, an inexpensive plastic, with a laser. Rather than a flat sheet of hexagonal carbon atoms, LIG is a foam of graphene sheets with one edge attached to the underlying surface and chemically active edges exposed to the air.
Not just any polyimide would produce LIG, and some woods are preferred over others, Tour said. The research team led by Rice graduate students Ruquan Ye and Yieu Chyan tried birch and oak, but found that pine’s cross-linked lignocellulose structure made it better for the production of high-quality graphene than woods with a lower lignin content. Lignin is the complex organic polymer that forms rigid cell walls in wood.
Ye said turning wood into graphene opens new avenues for the synthesis of LIG from nonpolyimide materials. “For some applications, such as three-dimensional graphene printing, polyimide may not be an ideal substrate,” he said. “In addition, wood is abundant and renewable.”
As with polyimide, the process takes place with a standard industrial laser at room temperature and pressure and in an inert argon or hydrogen atmosphere. Without oxygen, heat from the laser doesn’t burn the pine but transforms the surface into wrinkled flakes of graphene foam bound to the wood surface. Changing the laser power also changed the chemical composition and thermal stability of the resulting LIG. At 70 percent power, the laser produced the highest quality of what they dubbed “P-LIG,” where the P stands for “pine.”
The lab took its discovery a step further by turning P-LIG into electrodes for splitting water into hydrogen and oxygen and supercapacitors for energy storage. For the former, they deposited layers of cobalt and phosphorus or nickel and iron onto P-LIG to make a pair of electrocatalysts with high surface areas that proved to be durable and effective.
Depositing polyaniline onto P-LIG turned it into an energy-storing supercapacitor that had usable performance metrics, Tour said.
“There are more applications to explore,” Ye said. “For example, we could use P-LIG in the integration of solar energy for photosynthesis. We believe this discovery will inspire scientists to think about how we could engineer the natural resources that surround us into better-functioning materials.”
Tour saw a more immediate environmental benefit from biodegradable electronics.
“Graphene is a thin sheet of a naturally occurring mineral, graphite, so we would be sending it back to the ground from which it came along with the wood platform instead of to a landfill full of electronics parts.”
Co-authors of the paper are Rice graduate students Jibo Zhang and Yilun Li; Xiao Han, who has a complimentary appointment at Rice and is a graduate student at Beihang University, Beijing, China; and Rice research scientist Carter Kittrell. Tour is the T.T. and W.F. Chao Chair in Chemistry as well as a professor of computer science and of materials science and nanoengineering at Rice.
Learn more: Need graphene? Grab a saw
The Latest on: Laser-induced graphene
- Graphene Used to Develop Face Masks That Kill Viruses, Bacteriaon November 23, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Hence, the new material is called “laser-induced graphene.” Solving Mask Issues While face masks have become a major tool in the fight against the coronavirus, they also can cause what’s called ...
- Common Adhesive Tape Used to Build a Better Batteryon November 17, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Related: Is this Last Mile for the Million-Mile Battery? A team led by Rice chemist and professor James Tour used techniques similar to those utilized to develop laser-induced graphene to create a ...
- Engineers grow graphene on silveron November 17, 2020 at 4:00 pm
Growing graphene on a single-crystal silver substrate could lead to better optical devices and could allow graphene to interface with other 2D materials. “Silver is a widely used material to ...
- Scientists Develop Laser ‘Tractor Beam’ System That Can Change Path of Lightningon November 13, 2020 at 6:49 am
The laser beam proposed by the researchers sets a spot for such an electrical discharge to be released; in their experiments, they used graphene ... t tested such a laser-induced air heating ...
- 3D graphene framework high-performance supercapacitors with ultra-high energy storage densityon November 11, 2020 at 4:57 am
Schematic illustration for the improved laser inducing growth process of ultra-thick 3D graphene frameworks with hierarchical pores. (Image: LI Nian) (click on image to enlarge) In this work, ...
- Graphene electrodes for better-performance supercapacitorson November 11, 2020 at 4:19 am
In this work, laser-induced ultra-thick 3-D graphene frameworks, with thickness up to 320 μm, were directly grown on the synthesized polyimide by optimizing the thermal sensitivity of polyimide ...
- Researchers develop sensors that detect human biomarkers and toxic gason November 6, 2020 at 8:38 am
The researchers are specifically interested in a novel platform that directly integrates laser-induced graphene (LIG) via a simple laser scribing process. According to Cheng, this is a cost ...
- Jeongwon Parkon September 4, 2019 at 2:47 am
Novel electronic applications with 2D materials and nanowires for biosensors: For example, Graphene is a covalent 2D electron ... ion-mobility spectrometry, laser-induced fluorescence, ...
- Artificially Intelligent Manufacturing (AIM)on January 9, 2019 at 5:27 am
In addition, AIM PIs and associated researchers presented the latest results on applying state-of-the-art AI to laser-induced graphene production, atomistic modeling, and porous media modeling. The ...
- Nanocomposite Electrodeon October 17, 2018 at 3:32 pm
The objective of the project is to manufacture 2D/0D architectured nanocomposites for high-energy-density and high-power-density Li-ion batteries from layered deposition of graphene and nanoparticles ...
via Google News and Bing News