With graphene promising to revolutionize so many industries, we'll probably be churning out a lot of the stuff in the coming years. So, with current mass production techniques requiring the use of large amounts of organic solvents that aren't exactly great for the environment, the announcement of a new, more environmentally friendly and cost-effective technique for the large-scale production of the wonder material comes as good news.
Currently, graphene production involves exfoliating one-atom-thin layers of graphene from graphite using sound energy or shear forces. These layers are then dispersed in large amounts of organic solvent to prevent them from reattaching and reforming back into graphite. This process requires at least one tonne of organic solvent to produce around just 1 kg (2.2 lb) of graphene.
Now researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Fudan University claim to have developed a new approach that cuts the amount of solvent required by up to half, making it much more economically viable and more environmentally friendly.