Graphene is largely transparent to the eye and, as it turns out, largely transparent to water.
A new study by scientists at Rice University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) has determined that gold, copper and silicon get just as wet when clad by a single continuous layer of graphene as they would without.
The research, reported this week in the online edition of Nature Materials, is significant for scientists learning to fine-tune surface coatings for a variety of applications.
"The extreme thinness of graphene makes it a totally non-invasive coating," said Pulickel Ajayan, Rice's Benjamin M. and Mary Greenwood Anderson Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science and of chemistry. "A drop of water sitting on a surface 'sees through' the graphene layers and conforms to the wetting forces dictated by the surface beneath. It's quite an interesting phenomenon unseen in any other coatings and once again proves that graphene is really unique in many different ways." Ajayan is co-principal investigator of the study with Nikhil Koratkar, a professor of mechanical, aerospace and nuclear engineering at RPI.
A typical surface of graphite, the form of carbon most commonly known as pencil lead, should be hydrophobic, Ajayan said. But in the present study, the researchers found to their surprise that a single-atom-thick layer of the carbon lattice presents a negligible barrier between water and a hydrophilic – water-loving – surface. Piling on more layers reduces wetting; at about six layers, graphene essentially becomes graphite.
An interesting aspect of the study, Ajayan said, may be the ability to change such surface properties as conductivity while retaining wetting characteristics. Because pure graphene is highly conductive, the discovery could lead to a new class of conductive, yet impermeable, surface coatings, he said.
The caveat is that wetting transparency was observed only on surfaces (most metals and silicon) where interaction with water is dominated by weak van der Waals forces, and not for materials like glass, where wettability is dominated by strong chemical bonding, the team reported.
But such applications as condensation heat transfer -- integral to heating, cooling, dehumidifying, water harvesting and many industrial processes -- may benefit greatly from the discovery, according to the paper. Copper is commonly used for its high thermal conductivity, but it corrodes easily. The team coated a copper sample with a single layer of graphene and found the subnanometer barrier protected the copper from oxidation with no impact on its interaction with water; in fact, it enhanced the copper's thermal effectiveness by 30 to 40 percent.
"The finding is interesting from a fundamental point of view as well as for practical uses," Ajayan said. "Graphene could be one of a kind as a coating, allowing the intrinsic physical nature of surfaces, such as wetting and optical properties, to be retained while altering other specific functionalities like conductivity."
The paper's co-authors are Rice graduate student Hemtej Gullapalli, RPI graduate students Javad Rafiee, Xi Mi, Abhay Thomas and Fazel Yavari, and Yunfeng Shi, an assistant professor of materials science and engineering at RPI.
The Advanced Energy Consortium, National Science Foundation and the Office of Naval Research graphene MURI program funded the research.
Read the abstract at http://www.nature.com/nmat/journal/vaop/ncurrent/abs/nmat3228.html
Download high-resolution images at media.rice.edu/images/media/NewsRels/0123_wet.jpg
CAPTION: Drops of water on a piece of silicon and on silicon covered by a layer of graphene show a minimal change in the contact angle between the water and the base material. Researchers at Rice University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute determined that when applied to most metals and silicon, a single layer of graphene is transparent to water. (Credit: Rahul Rao/Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation's top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is known for its "unconventional wisdom." With 3,708 undergraduates and 2,374 graduate students, Rice's undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is less than 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice has been ranked No. 1 for best quality of life multiple times by the Princeton Review and No. 4 for "best value" among private universities by Kiplinger's Personal Finance. To read "What they're saying about Rice," go to http://www.rice.edu/nationalmedia/Rice.pdf
David Ruth | EurekAlert!
Black nitrogen: Bayreuth researchers discover new high-pressure material and solve a puzzle of the periodic table
29.05.2020 | Universität Bayreuth
Argonne researchers create active material out of microscopic spinning particles
29.05.2020 | DOE/Argonne National Laboratory
In living cells, enzymes drive biochemical metabolic processes enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very ability which allows them to be used as catalysts in biotechnology, for example to create chemical products such as pharmaceutics. Researchers now identified an enzyme that, when illuminated with blue light, becomes catalytically active and initiates a reaction that was previously unknown in enzymatics. The study was published in "Nature Communications".
Enzymes: they are the central drivers for biochemical metabolic processes in every living cell, enabling reactions to take place efficiently. It is this very...
Early detection of tumors is extremely important in treating cancer. A new technique developed by researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from normal tissue. The work is published May 25 in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
researchers at the University of California, Davis offers a significant advance in using magnetic resonance imaging to pick out even very small tumors from...
Microelectronics as a key technology enables numerous innovations in the field of intelligent medical technology. The Fraunhofer Institute for Biomedical Engineering IBMT coordinates the BMBF cooperative project "I-call" realizing the first electronic system for ultrasound-based, safe and interference-resistant data transmission between implants in the human body.
When microelectronic systems are used for medical applications, they have to meet high requirements in terms of biocompatibility, reliability, energy...
Thomas Heine, Professor of Theoretical Chemistry at TU Dresden, together with his team, first predicted a topological 2D polymer in 2019. Only one year later, an international team led by Italian researchers was able to synthesize these materials and experimentally prove their topological properties. For the renowned journal Nature Materials, this was the occasion to invite Thomas Heine to a News and Views article, which was published this week. Under the title "Making 2D Topological Polymers a reality" Prof. Heine describes how his theory became a reality.
Ultrathin materials are extremely interesting as building blocks for next generation nano electronic devices, as it is much easier to make circuits and other...
Scientists took a leukocyte as the blueprint and developed a microrobot that has the size, shape and moving capabilities of a white blood cell. Simulating a blood vessel in a laboratory setting, they succeeded in magnetically navigating the ball-shaped microroller through this dynamic and dense environment. The drug-delivery vehicle withstood the simulated blood flow, pushing the developments in targeted drug delivery a step further: inside the body, there is no better access route to all tissues and organs than the circulatory system. A robot that could actually travel through this finely woven web would revolutionize the minimally-invasive treatment of illnesses.
A team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) in Stuttgart invented a tiny microrobot that resembles a white blood cell...
19.05.2020 | Event News
07.04.2020 | Event News
06.04.2020 | Event News
29.05.2020 | Materials Sciences
29.05.2020 | Materials Sciences
29.05.2020 | Power and Electrical Engineering