Synthesis of Graphene from Graphene Oxide Using Bacteria

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Researchers at  Toyohashi University of Technology in Aichi, Japan have managed to use bacteria to create graphene – a substance with great promise in manufacturing. Using bacteria to reduce graphene’s oxide means a ‘greener,’ more environmentally-friendly production process as well.

Graphene 2-D structure. Image by Clara Piccirillo

What is Graphene?

Graphene is one of the most interesting and promising materials, due to its unique structure, properties and potential technological applications. The 2010 Physics Nobel Prize was given to professors Geim and Novoselov, from University of Manchester, UK, “for groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene.”

Graphene is a 2-D material, as it is made of just one layer of carbon atoms. The atoms are bound to each other, forming a hexagonal shape as shown in the picture, with a bond angle of 120o.

Possible Applications of Graphene

Graphene shows remarkable mechanical, electrical and optical properties. Many scientists believe it is the material which will “revolutionize” the ways things are made; items such as electronic devices and/or strong building materials could be made of graphene, for example.

Although not everybody agrees with this, there is surely a lot of research regarding graphene: how to make it, and how its properties can be exploited for technological applications,

Graphene Synthesis

For graphene to fulfil its potential and be used in many different fields, it is essential that we are able to prepare good-quality graphene with very easy and cheap methods.

One of the methods for making graphene is by reduction of graphene oxide. Graphene oxide has a similar structure to graphene, as carbon atoms are still bonded together into hexagonal shapes – however, it is not made just of carbon atoms; oxygen is present in the structure as well. We can make graphene oxide from graphite, a relatively cheap starting material, with a standard and simple chemical reaction.

In the successive reduction reaction, we remove the oxygen atoms by an appropriate molecule. During the reaction, an electron transfer process takes places, which favors the oxygen elimination. We can also achieve the reduction with the effect of heat (i.e. high temperature).

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