Graphene is hydrophobic, meaning it doesn’t dissolve in water directly. Researchers have long sought a method to create dispersions of graphene in liquid as a way of applying the material in a spray or paint form. Until now, the best known method for doing so involves organic solvents and heavy mechanical treatment, a process which corrupts the conductivity of the graphene sheet.
Umea University scientists have found a less energy-intensive, more environmentally friendly way to create graphene dispersions: using oxidized graphene, which is easy to disperse in water. “What we discovered is that stable water dispersions can be prepared by adding certain amount of graphene oxide to various hydrophobic carbons,” Umea University associate physics professor Alexandr Talyzin told Phys.org.
The dispersions remained stable, even after days on a shelf. The team then tested the efficacy of the dispersion by applying it to metal foil, drying it, and heating it to 392 degrees Fahrenheit. The result is a thin film of highly conductive material that can be useful in a number of applications, from printer ink to protective coatings and conductive paints.