News / Science & Technology

Kitchen Blender Mixes Up 'Wonder' Material

Kitchen Blender Mixes Up 'Wonder' Materiali
X
George Putic
May 23, 2014 5:25 PM
A relatively new substance called graphene is being hailed as the wonder material of the 21st century but no one has developed a way to mass produce it. However, one Irish scientist says he may have a solution. VOA's George Putic reports.
George Putic
A relatively new substance called graphene is being hailed as the wonder material of the 21st century, but no one has developed a way to mass produce it.

However, one Irish scientist says he may have a solution.

Graphite is another name for pure carbon, a well-known material used for - among other things - pencil lead.

But when the layers of graphite are separated into sheets only one atom thick, the material, known as graphene, behaves quite differently. At that level, the atoms form strict geometric patterns, making it not only stronger than steel but also the best conductor of heat and electricity.

Theoretically, graphene could radically change the way we manufacture batteries, computer chips and flexible screens, or approach cancer therapy.

Industry experts say separating and manipulating extremely thin sheets of graphene is a huge challenge.

“One of the things that's been holding this back is a supply of large scale, large quantities of graphene, good quality graphene, at reasonably low cost,” said Keith Paton of chemical manufacturer Thomas Swan.

But Jonathan Coleman, at the materials science center of Trinity College in Dublin, says it can be done by mixing graphite with water and a surfactant, a form of soap, in an ordinary kitchen blender. The rapidly rotating blade separates the layers, which stick to the blender’s wall.

“At this early stage there's also graphite in there, so we have to go through a processing stage where we separate the graphite from the graphene and when we do that we get this nice black liquid here and what this is, is graphene in water with surfactant,” Coleman said.

Coleman, the project's principal investigator, says once this process is perfected and adjusted for large-scale production, graphene will begin to change the way we manufacture many items - from high-strength plastic to printed electronic circuits.

“There will be many applications that will involve its conductivity, so if you make a very very thin layer of graphene on a surface that layer is conductive and so, for example, it can be used as electrodes in solar cells or batteries,” he said.

Scientists say this wonder material could be also used in water treatment plants and for cleaning up oil spills. Large scale production may start by the end of this year.

You May Like

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid