Using a Spray to Create a High-Quality Graphene Layer
Graphene, that amazing material with a wealth of special and useful properties has some complicating factors preventing it from being widely adopted. Among these is the difficulty with producing large layers of it, with relatively few defects. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Korea University however have found a quick and easy way to build a layer of high-quality graphene, using a spray system.
Graphene is an atom-thick sheet of carbon with a special hexagonal structure. As that structure is partially the source of its properties, defects in it can make the graphene useless. Also it has to be evenly and completely distributed over a surface, which is what the researchers decided to tackle first. To that end, they turned to a spray system capable of accelerating droplets to supersonic speeds and made a rather handy discovery. Though they turned to the spray system to make an even coating, it was also healing defects in the graphene flakes, as they were being deposited on a surface. The researchers believe it is because the flakes were striking the surface with enough force to actually restructure the flakes into something smoother. Imagine throwing a ball of putty against a wall, and you get the idea.
Thanks to the simplicity of this system, it could be used very inexpensively to coat any number of surfaces. Though graphene is normally associated with its electrical properties, this could actually be useful for reinforcing objects, thanks to the material's great strength.