Ultralight Foam Made from Atom-Thick Sheets
Two-dimensional materials have been of great interest since their discovery, as they can possess many interesting mechanical and electrical properties. Sometimes those properties will not translate to 3D forms of the material, but other times they will. Researchers at Rice University have recently devised a way to grow foam made of graphene oxide and white graphene that could find possible use as electrodes and structural components.
Graphene is an atom-thick sheet of carbon, with graphene oxide (GO) being a close relative that is actually easier to produce. White graphene is not related to either material though, except by having the same flat, hexagonal structure, as it consists of boron nitride. Because both GO and hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) have the same structure, they can form seamless connections, creating a hybrid material many researchers are investigating. Those at Rice discovered that they could combine the two with certain catalysts and then freeze-dry the mixture to create a foam of the 2D materials. The structure resembles an office building with multiple floors and walls supporting them.
When stress tested, the researchers found the foam stood up very well to compression and stretching. How well it survived depended on the ratio of GO and h-BN, which the researchers intend to optimize through additional experiments, while also testing how large a sample they can grow.
Source: Rice University