Engineers Discover the Secret to 3D Graphene is Freezing It
Graphene is a 'wonder material' with qualities that could make computers faster, batteries more powerful, and solar panels more efficient. But the material is difficult to manipulate beyond its two-dimensional form. An international research team led by engineers from the University at Buffalo and Kansas State University have found a way to 3D print graphene aerogel, which has only been used in lab prototypes. This technology will make the material much easier to use and open it up to wider applications. The team mixed graphene oxide - graphene with extra oxygen atoms - with water and deposited layers on a surface at -25°C. This instantly froze each layer, and allowed the undisrupted construction of the aerogel, with ice as its support. Once this process was completed, the ice was removed using liquid nitrogen in a 'freeze drying' technique. This expelled the water without damaging the microstructure. The material was then heated to remove oxygen atoms, which left only graphene in the aerogel.