News Column

Tough foam from tiny sheets

August 17, 2014



By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at VerticalNews Science -- Tough, ultralight foam of atom-thick sheets can be made to any size and shape through a chemical process invented at Rice University.

In microscopic images, the foam dubbed "GO-0.5BN" looks like a nanoscale building, with floors and walls that reinforce each other. The structure consists of a pair of two-dimensional materials: floors and walls of graphene oxide that self-assemble with the assistance of hexagonal boron nitride platelets.

The researchers say the foam could find use in structural components, as supercapacitor and battery electrodes and for gas absorption, among other applications.

The research by an international collaboration led by the Rice lab of materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan is detailed today in the online journal Nature Communications.

Graphene oxide (GO) is a variant of graphene, the hexagonal lattice of carbon atoms known for its superior strength and conductivity. It can be produced in bulk by chemically exfoliating oxidized graphite. Hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) looks like GO, with the same "chicken wire" array of atoms. An insulator known as "white graphene," h-BN has an ability to form seamless interfaces with graphene that has led to the creation of interesting hybrid materials at Rice and elsewhere.

Soumya Vinod, the Rice graduate student who co-led the project, said she and her colleagues expected adding h-BN to graphene oxide would toughen the resulting foam, but "the ordered, layered structure was not entirely expected."

Samples the size of a pencil's eraser were compressed with one or two pennies to see how well they would bounce back.

The h-BN platelets connect to graphene oxide and absorb stress from compression and stretching, preventing the GO floors from crumbling and significantly enhancing the material's thermal stability, Vinod said. The platelets also prevented the propagation of cracks that destroyed samples with less or no h-BN.

Keywords for this news article include: Chemicals, Chemistry, Boron Nitride, Rice University.

Our reports deliver fact-based news of research and discoveries from around the world. Copyright 2014, NewsRx LLC


For more stories covering the world of technology, please see HispanicBusiness' Tech Channel



Source: NewsRX Science


Story Tools






HispanicBusiness.com Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters