New research at Brown University has led to advanced possibilities for graphene, a nanomaterial, that can lead to better electrochemical properties and self-cleaning surfaces.
The original discoveries by Robert Hurt and Ian Wong, former students at Brown's School of Engineering, has been completed by Po-Yen Chen, a Hibbit postdoctoral fellow. The original research proved graphene could make substrates for culturing cells that were more similar to the complexity of the body's natural environment by producing wrinkles in the nanomaterial.
Chen's new work expands on that, building more complex architectures that incorporate wrinkles and crumples. Chen said he wanted to see if there is "a way to create higher-generational structures."
Some of the enhanced properties of the wrinkled and crumpled graphene include significant improvement in repelling water and enhanced electrochemical properties. The latter leads to the possibility of the material becoming more useful as electrodes in batteries or even as fuel cells.
The results of Chen's work are published in the journal Advanced Materials. To achieve the desired topography of the graphene, researchers deposited multiple layers of graphene oxide on shrink films, heating the material to force compression of the graphene so that it wrinkles and crumples. The process was repeated several times to achieve the desired results.
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