Canberra, May 25: In a breakthrough, Scientists at Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia have developed a novel "GraphAir" using soybean to make the world's strongest material graphene.
Graphene is a carbon material that is one atom thick. Its thin composition and high conductivity means it is used in applications ranging from electronics to biomedical devices. Previously, graphene was grown in a highly-controlled environment with explosive compressed gases, requiring long hours of operation at high temperatures and extensive vacuum processing.
“This ambient-air process for graphene fabrication is fast, simple, safe, potentially scalable, and integration-friendly,” CSIRO scientist Dr Zhao Jun Han, co-author of the paper published in Nature Communications said.
“Our unique technology is expected to reduce the cost of graphene production and improve the uptake in new applications.”
“Our GraphAir technology results in good and transformable graphene properties, comparable to graphene made by conventional methods,” CSIRO scientist and co-author of the study Dr Dong Han Seo said.
With heat, soybean oil breaks down into a range of carbon building units that are essential for the synthesis of graphene. The team also transformed other types of renewable and even waste oil, such as those leftover from barbecues or cooking, into graphene films.
“We can now recycle waste oils that would have otherwise been discarded and transform them into something useful,” Dr Seo said.
The potential applications of graphene include water filtration and purification, renewable energy, sensors, personalised healthcare and medicine, to name a few. Graphene has excellent electronic, mechanical, thermal and optical properties as well.
Its uses range from improving battery performance in energy devices, to cheaper solar panels.