Researchers from National University of Singapore suggested that a lack of graphene production standards has led to poor quality products of the material
Graphene is a 2D material that has several beneficial characteristics such as electrical conductivity and strength. It is 200 times stronger than steel and remains light, flexible, and transparent. The number of graphene-related research is significantly increasing to harvest its abilities in various applications. However, a team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) found that a lack of production standards has led to poor quality graphene from suppliers. According to the researchers, these practices can restrain the progress of research that essentially depend on the use of high-quality graphene. The research was published in the journal Advanced Materials on September 13, 2018.
The common process of obtaining graphene includes exfoliating the material, graphite into a powder. The powder is later submerged into a liquid and small graphene flakes are separated from the solution with the help of sound energy that vibrates the mixture. The process helps to produce the thinnest graphene possible, which is just one atomic layer thick. However, according to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), stacks of graphene flakes around ten layers thick can still behave similar to graphene.
The team developed a systematic and reliable approach that helps to determine the quality of graphene samples. A wide range of analytical techniques was used and samples from several suppliers of graphene were tested. The analysis of over 60 different sample providers from the Americas, Asia, and Europe suggested that majority of the samples contained less than 10% of graphene flakes. Graphite and graphene have different properties, which can lead to inaccurate results in case such impure graphene is used for research purpose. The team found that only one sample tested in the study contained over 40% of high-quality graphene. Moreover, some samples had traces of other chemicals used in the production process.
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