David Kirkpatrick

December 23, 2009

Dyeing graphene

I’ve done plenty of blogging on graphene, the world’s thinnest material at a single atom of carbon, and I’ve even posted an actual image of graphene. Now scientists at Northwestern University have found a way to actually dye the material — well, technically the method is more a reverse dyeing — but the result is a great reduction in cost when imaging graphene for certain applications.

From the link:

The useful tool is the dye fluorescein, and Jiaxing Huang, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, and his research group have used the dye to create a new imaging technique to view graphene, a one-atom thick sheet that scientists believe could be used to produce low-cost carbon-based transparent and flexible electronics.

Their results were recently published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Being the world’s thinnest materials, graphene and its derivatives such as graphene oxide are quite challenging to see. Current imaging methods for graphene materials typically involve expensive and time-consuming techniques. For example,  (AFM), which scans materials with a tiny tip, is frequently used to obtain images of graphene materials. But it is a slow process that can only look at small areas on smooth surfaces.  (SEM), which scans a surface with high-energy electrons, only works if the material is placed in vacuum. Some  methods are available, but they require the use of special substrates, too.

Update: Here’s a press release on this exact topic. Find the full text of the release (plus images) below the fold. (more…)