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Removing Silicon Contamination Doubles Graphene Performance

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Graphene is the strongest material ever tested. It’s also flexible, transparent, and conducts heat and electricity ten times better than copper. When graphene research won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010 it was hailed as a transformative material for flexible electronics, more powerful computer chips and solar panels, water filters and biosensors, but its performance has been mixed and industry adoption slow.

Now a study published in Nature Communication ( has identified silicon contamination as the root cause of the disappointing results, and detailed how to produce high-performing pure graphene.

RMIT University researchers inspected commercially-available graphene samples, atom by atom, with a scanning transition electron microscope and found that silicon present in natural graphite, the raw material used to make graphene, was not being fully removed when processed. “We believe this contamination is at the heart of many seemingly inconsistent reports on the properties of graphene, and perhaps many other atomically thin two-dimensional materials,” Dr Dorna Esrafilzadeh said.

The testing also found that contaminated material performed up to 50% worse when tested as electrodes. “This level of inconsistency may have stymied the emergence of major industry...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.