Graphene performance improved by crumpling and creasing

22 March 2016
By Tereza Pultarova
Mobile version
Share |
Crinkling graphene makes its wonder properties even better

Crinkling graphene makes its wonder properties even better [Credit: Brown University]

Crumpling and creasing graphene makes some of the wonder material's properties even better, researchers have found.

Although crumpling the one-dimensional layer of carbon atoms is not as easy as crumpling a sheet of paper, a team from Brown University found that mastering this process could pave the way for creating better self-cleaning surfaces. The reason is that crumpled graphene appears much more water repellent than the smooth variety. Creased graphene also seems to have better electrochemical properties, opening new possibilities for its use in battery electrodes and fuel cells.

In an article published in the latest issue of the journal Advanced Materials, the team led by post-doctoral fellow Po-Yen Chen, describes the method for creating crinkled graphene. They relied on a type of polymer membrane that shrinks when heated. As the films shrink, the graphene on top compresses and crumples.

The method could be used repeatedly for multiple wrinkling: after the first application, the shrinking substrate is dissolved and the wrinkled graphene layer placed on a new substrate to shrink again.

The team experimented with various ways of crumpling and studied how it affects the properties of the wonder material. Over three generations of crumpling, they were able to reduce the graphene sheet to one fortieth of its original size.

"As you go deeper into the generations you tend to get larger wavelength structures with the original, smaller wavelength structure from earlier generations built into them," said Robert Hurt, a professor of engineering at Brown and one of the paper's corresponding authors.

When experimenting with the highly crumpled sheet of graphene, the researchers found that it has become extremely hydrophobic - virtually impossible to wet with water. As soon as a drop of water touched the surface, it immediately rolled off.

The crumpled graphene was also found to provide 400 per cent higher electrochemical current density over flat graphene sheets, paving the way for much more efficient batteries.

"You don't need a new material to do it," Chen said. "You just need to crumple the graphene."

The team believes that compressed graphene could also open new possibilities for manufacturing of stretchable electronics and wearable sensors.

The team now plans to experiment with crumpling other two-dimensional materials, hoping to see the same effect in the materials’ properties.

"There are many new two-dimensional nanomaterials that have interesting properties, not just graphene," Wong said. "So other materials or combinations of materials may also organise into interesting structures with unexpected functionalities."

Latest Issue

E&T cover image 1607

"As the dust settles after the referendum result, we consider what happens next. We also look forward to an international summer of sport."

E&T jobs

  • Digital Forensic Specialist (Audio)

    Met Police
    • London
    • Circa £37,305 plus £3,406 location allowance

    You’ll contribute to a wide range of research and development activities.

    • Recruiter: Met Police

    Apply for this job

  • MetOp-SG Receiver Project Manager

    Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)
    • STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Harwell, Oxfordshire
    • £37,213 - £50,926 (depending on experience)

    Project Manager to oversee the development, production and test of spaceflight components and integrated receiver systems

    • Recruiter: Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

    Apply for this job

  • Systems Engineer

    Reaction Engines Ltd
    • Abingdon, Oxfordshire
    • Competitive + Benefits

    Perform general systems engineering tasks as necessary with specific focus on electronic systems and instrumentation.

    • Recruiter: Reaction Engines Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Production Manager

    Reaction Engines Ltd
    • Abingdon, Oxfordshire
    • Competitive + Benefits

    An amazing opportunity to plan, direct and coordinate all manufacturing operations and activities in line with company strategy and business plan.

    • Recruiter: Reaction Engines Ltd

    Apply for this job

  • Navigation Sensors Principle Engineer

    • Stevenage
    • Competitive Salary & Benefits

    What?s the opportunity? An exciting opportunity has arisen in a rapidly evolving international team with increasing capabilities.  The Navigation Sensors Group is responsible for the...

    • Recruiter: MBDA

    Apply for this job

  • Technology Manager - External Communications

    BAE Systems
    • Frimley, England, Surrey
    • Negotiable

    Technology Manager - External Communications Would you like Lead the technical delivery of the External Communications System (ECS) capability sustainment & evolution projects within the common ECS (cECS) Baseline Design Management (BDM) programme? Th

    • Recruiter: BAE Systems

    Apply for this job

  • Graduate Process Engineer

    EFFECT Photonics
    • Brixham, Devon
    • £20,000 to £25,000

    Join our exciting journey to deliver new standards in the availability of data bandwidth.

    • Recruiter: EFFECT Photonics

    Apply for this job

  • Senior Principal Materials Engineer

    • Stevenage
    • Competitive salary & benefits

    What?s the opportunity? A fantastic opportunity has arisen for an experienced materials engineer/scientist specialising in non-metallic materials and processing. You will be given responsibility for...

    • Recruiter: MBDA

    Apply for this job

  • Postdoctoral Research Associate

    The University of Liverpool
    • Liverpool, Merseyside
    • £32,600 - £37,768 pa

    Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate in a brand new area of communications.

    • Recruiter: The University of Liverpool

    Apply for this job

  • Test Engineering Opportunities

    • Hanslope Park, Milton Keynes
    • Salary offered will depend on skills and experience

    Push incredible innovations beyond their limits. Opportunities for Software, Hardware, EMC, Test and Inspection Engineers!

    • Recruiter: HMGCC

    Apply for this job

More jobs ▶


Choose the way you would like to access the latest news and developments in your field.

Subscribe to E&T