Graphene is known as a 2D material, at only one atom thick. It’s over 200 times stronger than steel, but it’s extremely light. Those are not the only properties of graphene, but this should already be telling you that countless industries from energy, to technology, to medical equipment, etc, could be improved by this material.
One way to produce sheets of graphene is by using mechanical exfoliation of graphene. The main issue with this technique is that it can only produce rather small sheets of graphene.
CVD – Chemical Vapor Deposition – is said to solve that issue, as it can produce larger pieces of graphene in a cost-efficient way. Unsurprisingly, scientists are investing a lot of time, money, and effort into figuring out how to do it well, and what some of the drawbacks of CVD are.
CVD, however, includes building a lot of surface structures. At just one atom thick, every little scratch or wrinkle on the surface of a graphene sheet can be destructive for the whole structure.
A Korea-led team recently focused on studying those wrinkles and how they effect the end result.
They found that only the top-most layer of graphene was twisted with respect to the rest, which influenced the layer-dependent nanoscale friction in a way that varied according to the applied load.
This study might be the thing that kicks off a lot more interest, research into, and potentially production of graphene, using CVD.
If successful, this technique could make sure that graphene is easily usable in solid-state lubricants, that come in to replace regular lubricants like oil, in places that they cannot be used, the lead scientist on this study explains.
High-performance solid lubricants don’t sound like an exciting thing, but I’d expect the interest in them to be growing in the near future, as they greatly improve friction in places most-needed.