Chemistry World reports that scientists in Spain and Italy have developed a greener way to make graphene. The mechanochemical technique works by exfoliating graphite with carbohydrates.
The traditional method to make graphene uses sonification that requires the use of toxic solvents.
Ester Vázquez from the University of Castilla-La Mancha, Spain and her team created the new method.
The new method uses ball milling and glucose to exfoliate graphite and make graphene. The team was also able to make graphene-glucose co-crystals by adding small amounts of water to the ball milling treatment.
Vázquez explained: “The formation of co-crystals is a common technique used in the pharma industry to dissolve or suspend drugs in water without excipients.”
She added: “Co-crystals do not alter the drug’s properties, in our case graphene’s properties. Therefore, we devised this method to achieve safer graphene that can be suspended in water and culture media.”
Vázquez is optimistic about the potential of the new process. She says it can help incorporate graphene in hydrogels. It can even generate 3D scaffolds that are able to host nerve cells, making the system ideal to grow 3D cellular scaffolds.
What is Graphene?
Graphene is a super strong, yet flexible, material that is made from graphite. It’s also a great conductor of electricity – even better than copper – and has a myriad of applications in different sectors.
Market forecasters predict that graphene will be an inseparable part of industries such as health, construction, electronics, and energy.
Graphene Market to Grow over $200m by 2024
Global Market Insights predicts that the graphene market will cross $200 million by 2024.
Graphene is currently used in medical devices, sports equipment, and solar panels, among other things.
The report suggests that graphene’s increasing use in the automotive and aerospace industries will primarily drive the growth, but other industries will contribute too.