Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Graphene


The extraordinary properties of graphene and carbon nanotubes motivate the development of methods for their use in producing continuous, strong, tough fibres. Previous work has shown that the toughness of the carbon nanotube-reinforced polymer fibres exceeds that of previously known materials. Here we show that further increased toughness results from combining carbon nanotubes and reduced graphene oxide flakes in solution-spun polymer fibres. The gravimetric toughness approaches 1,000 J g(-1), far exceeding spider dragline silk (165 J g(-1)) and Kevlar (78 J g(-1)). This toughness enhancement is consistent with the observed formation of an interconnected network of partially aligned reduced graphene oxide flakes and carbon nanotubes during solution spinning, which act to deflect cracks and allow energy-consuming polymer deformation. Toughness is sensitive to the volume ratio of the reduced graphene oxide flakes to the carbon nanotubes in the spinning solution and the degree of graphene oxidation. The hybrid fibres were sewable and weavable, and could be shaped into high-modulus helical springs.

Concepts: Carbon dioxide, Redox, Nitrogen, Carbon, Carbon nanotube, Graphene, Tensile strength, Spider silk


We report hot filament thermal CVD (HFTCVD) as a new hybrid of hot filament and thermal CVD and demonstrate its feasibility by producing high quality large area strictly monolayer graphene films on Cu substrates. Gradient in gas composition and flow rate that arises due to smart placement of the substrate inside the Ta filament wound alumina tube accompanied by radical formation on Ta due to precracking coupled with substrate mediated physicochemical processes like diffusion, polymerization etc., led to graphene growth. We further confirmed our mechanistic hypothesis by depositing graphene on Ni and SiO(2)/Si substrates. HFTCVD can be further extended to dope graphene with various heteroatoms (H, N, and B, etc.,), combine with functional materials (diamond, carbon nanotubes etc.,) and can be extended to all other materials (Si, SiO(2), SiC etc.,) and processes (initiator polymerization, TFT processing) possible by HFCVD and thermal CVD.

Concepts: Carbon, Aluminium, Carbon nanotube, Graphite, Graphene, Materials science, Chemical vapor deposition, Silicon carbide


Processing and manipulation of highly conductive pristine graphene in large quantities are still major challenges in the practical application of graphene for electric device. In the present study, we report the liquid-phase exfoliation of graphite in toluene using well-defined poly(3-hexylthiophene) (P3HT) to produce a P3HT/graphene composite. We synthesize and use regioregular P3HT with controlled molecular weights as conductive dispersants for graphene. Simple ultrasonication of graphite flakes with the P3HT successfully produces single-layer and few-layer graphene sheets dispersed in toluene. The produced P3HT/graphene composite can be used as conductive graphene ink, indicating that the P3HT/graphene composite has high electrical conductivity owing to the high conductivity of P3HT and graphene. The P3HT/graphene composite also works as an oxidation-resistant and conductive film for a copper substrate, which is due to the high gas-barrier property of graphene.

Concepts: Electricity, Electrical conductor, Aluminium, Copper, Graphite, Graphene, Electrical conductivity, Fullerene


In modern neuroscience, significant progress in developing structural scaffolds integrated with the brain is provided by the increasing use of nanomaterials. We show that a multiwalled carbon nanotube self-standing framework, consisting of a three-dimensional (3D) mesh of interconnected, conductive, pure carbon nanotubes, can guide the formation of neural webs in vitro where the spontaneous regrowth of neurite bundles is molded into a dense random net. This morphology of the fiber regrowth shaped by the 3D structure supports the successful reconnection of segregated spinal cord segments. We further observed in vivo the adaptability of these 3D devices in a healthy physiological environment. Our study shows that 3D artificial scaffolds may drive local rewiring in vitro and hold great potential for the development of future in vivo interfaces.

Concepts: In vivo, Carbon, Nanotechnology, In vitro, Carbon nanotube, Graphite, Graphene, Tensile strength


Silkworm silk is gaining significant attention from both the textile industry and research society because of its outstanding mechanical properties and lustrous appearance. The possibility of creating tougher silks attracts particular research interest. Carbon nanotubes and graphene are widely studied for their use as reinforcement. In this work, we report mechanically enhanced silk directly collected by feeding Bombyx mori larval silkworms with single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) and graphene. We found that parts of the fed carbon nanomaterials were incorporated into the as-spun silk fibers, whereas the others went into the excrement of silkworms. Spectroscopy study indicated that nanocarbon additions hindered the conformation transition of silk fibroin from random coil/α-helix to β-sheet, which may contribute to increased breaking elongation and toughness modules. We further investigated the pyrolysis of modified silk, and a highly developed graphitic structure with obviously enhanced electrical conductivity was obtained through the introduction SWNTs and graphene. The successful generation of these SWNT- or graphene- embedded silks by in vivo feeding is expected to open up possibilities for the large-scale production of high strength silk fibers.

Concepts: Carbon, Carbon nanotube, Graphite, Graphene, Silk, Bombyx mori, Bombycidae, Bombyx


Graphene nanoribbons (GNR), can be prepared in bulk quantities for large-area applications by reducing the product from the lengthwise oxidative unzipping of multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWNT). Recently, the biomaterials application of GNR has been explored, for example, in the pore to be used for DNA sequencing. Therefore, understanding the polymer behavior of GNR in solution is essential in predicting GNR interaction with biomaterials. Here, we report experimental studies of the solution-based mechanical properties of GNR and their parent products, graphene oxide nanoribbons (GONR). We used atomic force microscopy (AFM) to study their mechanical properties in solution and showed that GNR and GONR have similar force-extension behavior as in biopolymers such as proteins and DNA. The rigidity increases with reducing chemical functionalities. The similarities in rigidity and tunability between nanoribbons and biomolecules might enable the design and fabrication of GNR-biomimetic interfaces.

Concepts: Molecular biology, Chemistry, Polymer, Nitrogen, Carbon, Carbon nanotube, Graphene, Biopolymer


Understanding how nanomaterials interact with cell membranes is related to how they cause cytotoxicity and is therefore critical for designing safer biomedical applications. Recently, graphene (a two-dimensional nanomaterial) was shown to have antibacterial activity on Escherichia coli, but its underlying molecular mechanisms remain unknown. Here we show experimentally and theoretically that pristine graphene and graphene oxide nanosheets can induce the degradation of the inner and outer cell membranes of Escherichia coli, and reduce their viability. Transmission electron microscopy shows three rough stages, and molecular dynamics simulations reveal the atomic details of the process. Graphene nanosheets can penetrate into and extract large amounts of phospholipids from the cell membranes because of the strong dispersion interactions between graphene and lipid molecules. This destructive extraction offers a novel mechanism for the molecular basis of graphene’s cytotoxicity and antibacterial activity.

Concepts: Protein, Electron, Bacteria, Cell membrane, Atom, Nanomaterials, Graphene, Lipid bilayer


Implantable sensors utilizing nanotechnology are at the forefront of diagnostic, medical monitoring, and biological technologies. These sensors are often equipped with nanostructured carbon allotropes, such as graphene or carbon nanotubes (CNTs), because of their unique and often enhanced properties over forms of bulk carbon, such as diamond or graphite. Because of these properties, the fundamental and applied research of these carbon nanomaterials have become some of the most cited topics in scientific literature in the past decades. The age of carbon nanomaterials is simply budding, however, and is expected to have a major impact in many areas. These areas include electronics, photonics, plasmonics, energy capture (including batteries, fuel cells, and photovoltaics), and-the emphasis of this review-biosensors and sensor technologies. The following review will discuss future prospects of the two most commonly used carbon allotropes in implantable sensors for nanomedicine and nanobiotechnology, CNTs and graphene. Sufficient further reading and resources have been provided for more in-depth and specific reading that is outside the scope of this general review. WIREs Nanomed Nanobiotechnol 2013. doi: 10.1002/wnan.1213 For further resources related to this article, please visit the WIREs website.

Concepts: Carbon, Nanotechnology, Nanomaterials, Carbon nanotube, Allotropes of carbon, Graphite, Graphene, Fullerene


Graphene, an atomically thin two-dimensional material, has received significant attention due to its extraordinary electronic, optical and mechanical properties. Studies focused on understanding the wettability of graphene for thermo-fluidic and surface-coating applications, however, have been sparse. Meanwhile, wettability results reported in literature via static contact angle measurement experiments have been contradictory and highlight the lack of clear understanding of the underlying physics that dictates wetting behavior. In this work, dynamic contact angle measurements and detailed graphene surface characterizations were performed to demonstrate that the defects present in CVD grown and transferred graphene coatings result in unusually high contact angle hysteresis (16°-37°) on these otherwise smooth surfaces. Hence, understanding the effect of the underlying substrate based on static contact angle measurements, as reported in literature is insufficient. The advancing contact angle measurements on mono-, bi-, and tri-layer graphene sheets on copper, thermally grown silica (SiO2), and glass substrates were observed to be independent of the number of layers of graphene and in good agreement with corresponding molecular dynamics simulations and theoretical calculations. Irrespective of the number of graphene layers, the advancing contact angle values were also in good agreement with the advancing contact angle on highly ordered pyrolytic graphite (HOPG), reaffirming the negligible effect of the underlying substrate. These results suggest that the advancing contact angle is a true representation of a graphene-coated surface while the receding contact angle is significantly influenced by intrinsic defects introduced during the growth and transfer processes. These observations, where the underlying substrates do not affect the wettability of graphene coatings, is shown to be due to the large interlayer spacing resulting from the loose interlamellar coupling between the graphene sheet and the underlying substrate. The fundamental insights on graphene-water interactions reported in this study is an important step towards developing graphene-assisted surface coatings, heat transfer and microfluidics devices.

Concepts: Wetting, Surface tension, Graphite, Graphene, Angle, Hysteresis, Contact angle, Sessile drop technique


The preparation of polymer-functionalized graphene nanoribbons (PF-GNRs) in a one-pot synthesis is described. Multiwalled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) were intercalated by potassium under vapor- or liquid-phase conditions, followed by addition of vinyl or epoxide monomers, resulting in PF-GNRs. Scanning electron microscopy, thermogravimetric mass spectrometry and X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy were used to characterize the PF-GNRs. Also explored here is the correlation between the splitting of MWCNTs, the intrinsic properties of the intercalants and the degree of defects and graphitization of the starting MWCNTs. The PF-GNRs could have applications in conductive composites, transparent electrodes, heat circuits and supercapacitors.

Concepts: Electron, Spectroscopy, Light, Carbon nanotube, Graphite, Graphene, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, Scanning electron microscope