Because of graphene's strength, high thermal and electricity conductivity, 3D printed objects would be highly coveted in certain industries, including batteries, aerospace, separation, heat management, sensors, and catalysis
Researchers from Virginia Tech and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have developed a novel way to 3D print complex objects of one of the highest-performing materials used in the battery and aerospace industries.
Researchers from the Virginia Tech College of Engineering and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have developed a novel process to 3D print graphene, one of the strongest materials ever tested, at a higher resolution that was an order of magnitude greater than ever printed before.
Credit: Virginia Tech
Previously, researchers could only print this material, known as graphene, in 2D sheets or basic structures. But Virginia Tech engineers have now collaborated on a project that allows them to 3D print graphene objects at a resolution an order of magnitude greater than ever before printed, which unlocks the ability to theoretically create any size or shape of graphene.
Because of its strength - graphene is one of the strongest materials ever tested on Earth - and its high thermal and electricity conductivity, 3D printed graphene objects would be highly coveted in certain industries, including batteries, aerospace, separation, heat management, sensors, and catalysis.
Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms organized in a hexagonal lattice. When graphene sheets are neatly stacked on top of each other and formed into a three-dimensional shape, it becomes graphite, commonly known as the "lead" in pencils.
Because graphite is simply packed-together graphene, it has fairly poor mechanical properties. But if the graphene sheets are separated with air-filled pores, the three-dimensional structure can maintain its properties. This porous graphene structure is called a graphene aerogel.
"Now a designer can design three-dimensional topology comprised of interconnected graphene sheets," said Xiaoyu "Rayne" Zheng, assistant professor with the Department of Mechanical Engineering in the College of Engineering and director of the Advanced Manufacturing and Metamaterials Lab. "This new design and manufacturing freedom will lead to optimization of strength, conductivity, mass transport, strength, and weight density that are not achievable in graphene aerogels."
Zheng, also an affiliated faculty member of the Macromolecules Innovation Institute, has received grants to study nanoscale materials and scale them up to lightweight and functional materials for applications in aerospace, automobiles, and batteries.
Previously, researchers could print graphene using an extrusion process, sort of like squeezing toothpaste, but that technique could only create simple objects that stacked on top of itself.
"With that technique, there's very limited structures you can create because there's no support and the resolution is quite limited, so you can't get freeform factors," Zheng said. "What we did was to get these graphene layers to be architected into any shape that you want with high resolution."
This project began three years ago when Ryan Hensleigh, lead author of the article and now a third-year Macromolecular Science and Engineering Ph.D. student, began an internship at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California. Hensleigh started working with Zheng, who was then a member of the technical staff at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. When Zheng joined the faculty at Virginia Tech in 2016, Hensleigh followed as a student and continued working on this project.
To create these complex structures, Hensleigh started with graphene oxide, a precursor to graphene, crosslinking the sheets to form a porous hydrogel. Breaking the graphene oxide hydrogel with ultrasound and adding light-sensitive acrylate polymers, Hensleigh could use projection micro-stereolithography to create the desired solid 3D structure with the graphene oxide trapped in the long, rigid chains of acrylate polymer. Finally, Hensleigh would place the 3D structure in a furnace to burn off the polymers and fuse the object together, leaving behind a pure and lightweight graphene aerogel.
"It's a significant breakthrough compared to what's been done," Hensleigh said. "We can access pretty much any desired structure you want." The key finding of this work, which was recently published with collaborators at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in the journal Materials Horizons, is that the researchers created graphene structures with a resolution an order of magnitude finer than ever printed. Hensleigh said other processes could print down to 100 microns, but the new technique allows him to print down to 10 microns in resolution, which approaches the size of actual graphene sheets.
"We've been able to show you can make a complex, three-dimensional architecture of graphene while still preserving some of its intrinsic prime properties," Zheng said. "Usually when you try to 3D print graphene or scale up, you lose most of their lucrative mechanical properties found in its single sheet form."
Co-authors include Huachen Cui, a doctoral student in Zheng's lab, and six people from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory - James Oakdale, Jianchao Ye, Patrick Campbell, Eric Duoss, Christopher Spadaccini, and Marcus Worsley. Zheng and Hensleigh are funded by an Air Force Young Investigator Award (Dr. Jaimie S. Tiley) and the National Science Foundation (CMMI 1727492).
Andrew Tie | EurekAlert!
Capturing 3D microstructures in real time
03.04.2020 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
Graphene-based actuator swarm enables programmable deformation
02.04.2020 | Science China Press
Drops of water falling on or sliding over surfaces may leave behind traces of electrical charge, causing the drops to charge themselves. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPI-P) in Mainz have now begun a detailed investigation into this phenomenon that accompanies us in every-day life. They developed a method to quantify the charge generation and additionally created a theoretical model to aid understanding. According to the scientists, the observed effect could be a source of generated power and an important building block for understanding frictional electricity.
Water drops sliding over non-conducting surfaces can be found everywhere in our lives: From the dripping of a coffee machine, to a rinse in the shower, to an...
90 million-year-old forest soil provides unexpected evidence for exceptionally warm climate near the South Pole in the Cretaceous
An international team of researchers led by geoscientists from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) have now...
The bacteria that cause tuberculosis need iron to survive. Researchers at the University of Zurich have now solved the first detailed structure of the transport protein responsible for the iron supply. When the iron transport into the bacteria is inhibited, the pathogen can no longer grow. This opens novel ways to develop targeted tuberculosis drugs.
One of the most devastating pathogens that lives inside human cells is Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacillus that causes tuberculosis. According to the...
An international team with the participation of Prof. Dr. Michael Kues from the Cluster of Excellence PhoenixD at Leibniz University Hannover has developed a new method for generating quantum-entangled photons in a spectral range of light that was previously inaccessible. The discovery can make the encryption of satellite-based communications much more secure in the future.
A 15-member research team from the UK, Germany and Japan has developed a new method for generating and detecting quantum-entangled photons at a wavelength of...
Together with their colleagues from the University of Würzburg, physicists from the group of Professor Alexander Szameit at the University of Rostock have devised a “funnel” for photons. Their discovery was recently published in the renowned journal Science and holds great promise for novel ultra-sensitive detectors as well as innovative applications in telecommunications and information processing.
The quantum-optical properties of light and its interaction with matter has fascinated the Rostock professor Alexander Szameit since College.
02.04.2020 | Event News
26.03.2020 | Event News
23.03.2020 | Event News
03.04.2020 | Materials Sciences
03.04.2020 | Life Sciences
03.04.2020 | Life Sciences