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

Concept: Graphite


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


Layered graphitic materials exhibit new intriguing electronic structure and the search for new types of two-dimensional (2D) monolayer is of importance for the fabrication of next generation miniature electronic and optoelectronic devices. By means of density functional theory (DFT) computations, we investigated in detail the structural, electronic, mechanical and optical properties of the single-layer bismuth iodide (BiI3) nanosheet. Monolayer BiI3 is dynamically stable as confirmed by the computed phonon spectrum. The cleavage energy (Ecl) and interlayer coupling strength of bulk BiI3 are comparable to the experimental values of graphite, which indicates that the exfoliation of BiI3 is highly feasible. The obtained stress-strain curve shows that the BiI3 nanosheet is a brittle material with a breaking strain of 13%. The BiI3 monolayer has an indirect band gap of 1.57 eV with spin orbit coupling (SOC), indicating its potential application for solar cells. Furthermore, the band gap of BiI3 monolayer can be modulated by biaxial strain. Most interestingly, interfacing electrically active graphene with monolayer BiI3 nanosheet leads to enhanced light absorption compared to that in pure monolayer BiI3 nanosheet, highlighting its great potential applications in photonics and photovoltaic solar cells.

Concepts: Photon, Optics, Density functional theory, Graphite, Solar cell, Photodiode, Band gap, Photonics


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


We have produced a superconducting binary-elements intercalated graphite, CaxSr1-xCy, with the intercalation of Sr and Ca in highly-oriented pyrolytic graphite; the superconducting transition temperature, T c, was ~3 K. The superconducting CaxSr1-xCy sample was fabricated with the nominal x value of 0.8, i.e., Ca0.8Sr0.2Cy. Energy dispersive X-ray (EDX) spectroscopy provided the stoichiometry of Ca0.5(2)Sr0.5(2)Cy for this sample, and the X-ray powder diffraction (XRD) pattern showed that Ca0.5(2)Sr0.5(2)Cy took the SrC6-type hexagonal-structure rather than CaC6-type rhombohedral-structure. Consequently, the chemical formula of CaxSr1-xCy sample could be expressed as ‘Ca0.5(2)Sr0.5(2)C6’. The XRD pattern of Ca0.5(2)Sr0.5(2)C6 was measured at 0-31 GPa, showing that the lattice shrank monotonically with increasing pressure up to 8.6 GPa, with the structural phase transition occurring above 8.6 GPa. The pressure dependence of T c was determined from the DC magnetic susceptibility and resistance up to 15 GPa, which exhibited a positive pressure dependence of T c up to 8.3 GPa, as in YbC6, SrC6, KC8, CaC6 and Ca0.6K0.4C8. The further application of pressure caused the rapid decrease of T c. In this study, the fabrication and superconducting properties of new binary-elements intercalated graphite, CaxSr1-xCy, are fully investigated, and suitable combinations of elements are suggested for binary-elements intercalated graphite.

Concepts: Diffraction, Crystallography, Fundamental physics concepts, Graphite, X-ray crystallography, Phase transition, Superconductivity, X-ray scattering techniques


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


Carbon exhibits a large number of allotropes and its phase behaviour is still subject to significant uncertainty and intensive research. The hexagonal form of diamond, also known as lonsdaleite, was discovered in the Canyon Diablo meteorite where its formation was attributed to the extreme conditions experienced during the impact. However, it has recently been claimed that lonsdaleite does not exist as a well-defined material but is instead defective cubic diamond formed under high pressure and high temperature conditions. Here we report the synthesis of almost pure lonsdaleite in a diamond anvil cell at 100 GPa and 400 °C. The nanocrystalline material was recovered at ambient and analysed using diffraction and high resolution electron microscopy. We propose that the transformation is the result of intense radial plastic flow under compression in the diamond anvil cell, which lowers the energy barrier by “locking in” favourable stackings of graphene sheets. This strain induced transformation of the graphitic planes of the precursor to hexagonal diamond is supported by first principles calculations of transformation pathways and explains why the new phase is found in an annular region. Our findings establish that high purity lonsdaleite is readily formed under strain and hence does not require meteoritic impacts.

Concepts: Condensed matter physics, Carbon, Graphite, Materials science, Diamond, Carbon forms, Diamond anvil cell, High pressure


To progress from the laboratory to commercial applications, it will be necessary to develop industrially scalable methods to produce large quantities of defect-free graphene. Here we show that high-shear mixing of graphite in suitable stabilizing liquids results in large-scale exfoliation to give dispersions of graphene nanosheets. X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy show the exfoliated flakes to be unoxidized and free of basal-plane defects. We have developed a simple model that shows exfoliation to occur once the local shear rate exceeds 10(4) s(-1). By fully characterizing the scaling behaviour of the graphene production rate, we show that exfoliation can be achieved in liquid volumes from hundreds of millilitres up to hundreds of litres and beyond. The graphene produced by this method performs well in applications from composites to conductive coatings. This method can be applied to exfoliate BN, MoS2 and a range of other layered crystals.

Concepts: Spectroscopy, X-ray, Volume, Water, Liquid, Raman spectroscopy, Graphite, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy


The shock-induced transition from graphite to diamond has been of great scientific and technological interest since the discovery of microscopic diamonds in remnants of explosively driven graphite. Furthermore, shock synthesis of diamond and lonsdaleite, a speculative hexagonal carbon polymorph with unique hardness, is expected to happen during violent meteor impacts. Here, we show unprecedented in situ X-ray diffraction measurements of diamond formation on nanosecond timescales by shock compression of pyrolytic as well as polycrystalline graphite to pressures from 19 GPa up to 228 GPa. While we observe the transition to diamond starting at 50 GPa for both pyrolytic and polycrystalline graphite, we also record the direct formation of lonsdaleite above 170 GPa for pyrolytic samples only. Our experiment provides new insights into the processes of the shock-induced transition from graphite to diamond and uniquely resolves the dynamics that explain the main natural occurrence of the lonsdaleite crystal structure being close to meteor impact sites.

Concepts: Scientific method, Crystal, Science, Carbon, Graphite, Materials science, Diamond, Impact event


Pencil traces drawn on print papers are shown to function as strain gauges and chemiresistors. Regular graphite/clay pencils can leave traces composed of percolated networks of fine graphite powders, which exhibit reversible resistance changes upon compressive or tensile deflections. Flexible toy pencils can leave traces that are essentially thin films of graphite/polymer composites, which show reversible changes in resistance upon exposure to volatile organic compounds due to absorption/desorption induced swelling/recovery of the polymer binders. Pencil-on-paper devices are low-cost, extremely simple and rapid to fabricate. They are light, flexible, portable, disposable, and do not generate potentially negative environmental impact during processing and device fabrication. One can envision many other types of pencil drawn paper electronic devices that can take on a great variety of form factors. Hand drawn devices could be useful in resource-limited or emergency situations. They could also lead to new applications integrating art and electronics.

Concepts: Graphite, Writing, Volatile organic compound, Electronics, Electronic engineering, Pencil, Stationery, Grey Knotts


After the discovery of fullerene-C60, it took almost two decades for the possibility of boron-based fullerene structures to be considered. So far, there has been no experimental evidence for these nanostructures, in spite of the progress made in theoretical investigations of their structure and bonding. Here we report the observation, by photoelectron spectroscopy, of an all-boron fullerene-like cage cluster at B40(-) with an extremely low electron-binding energy. Theoretical calculations show that this arises from a cage structure with a large energy gap, but that a quasi-planar isomer of B40(-) with two adjacent hexagonal holes is slightly more stable than the fullerene structure. In contrast, for neutral B40 the fullerene-like cage is calculated to be the most stable structure. The surface of the all-boron fullerene, bonded uniformly via delocalized σ and π bonds, is not perfectly smooth and exhibits unusual heptagonal faces, in contrast to C60 fullerene.

Concepts: Scientific method, Electron, Carbon, Philosophy of science, Graphite, Bond, Fullerene, Truncated icosahedron