Making Graphene and Carbon Fibers Even Lighter and Stronger

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

While scientists at Columbia University have used chemical vapor deposition (CVD) to create large sheets of stronger-than-average graphene, a research team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has found ways to weave stronger carbon nanotubes. James Hone and Jeffrey Kysar, professors of mechanical engineering at Columbia University, learned that the enormous strength of graphene is usually achieved in only small patches.  The “grain boundaries” for larger sheets were often far weaker than the theoretical strengths of which the material is capable. That strength is phenomenal.  Hone explains, “It would take an elephant, balanced on a pencil, to break through a sheet of graphene the thickness of Saran Wrap.” Results of their study were published in the journal Science. The paper’s …

GraphExeter Aims for Power with Transparency

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

It doesn’t sound much like dispassionate, objective scholarly reporting, but the University of Exeter in England headlines its report on a University-created breakthrough material, “Revolutionary new device joins world of smart electronics.” Layering graphene and the GraphExeter, a material obviously headed for product marketing, gives a “new flexible, transparent, photosensitive device” that can lead to solar-powered clothing able to charge the wearer’s cell phone, “intelligent” windows that can “harvest light and display images,” and just maybe (in this writer’s dreams) help power electric cars and airplanes. GraphExeter, Exeter claims, is the best known room temperature transparent conductor and with graphene – the thinnest conductive material – the pair make for great potential.   Researchers  developed  GraphExeter by sandwiching molecules of …

What Do You Have on Your DVD Burner?

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Richard Kaner and Maher El-Kady have “micro-scale graphene-based supercapacitors” on their front DVD burner, showing an energetic alternative to saving all those ‘80’s rockers to disc. Dr. Kaner is a member of the California NanoSystems Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and professor of chemistry and biochemistry.  He and graduate student El-Kady are using a “consumer grade” LightScribe DVD burner to make dozens of micro supercapacitors on what looks like a typical DVD. Dr. Kaner’s research lab hosts 17 undergraduate and graduate student researchers who’ve helped amass at least 390 papers in four main areas of research; conducting polymers, graphene, superhard materials and thermoelectric materials.  Their recent investigation of supercapacitor fabrication seems to encompass almost all …

A Layer of Graphene, A Layer of Nanowires…

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

Combine nano-anything with graphene, and that seems to describe most of what’s driving physics and chemistry laboratories at our major universities.  The blog reported last week on Princeton researchers who’ve created a thin, flexible solar cell that absorbs 96-percent of received light and draws energy from off-axis and varied wavelengths of light. MIT researchers, too, have created a thin, flexible solar cell, but one based on layers of flexible graphene sheets, each coated with a layer of nanowires.  Besides flexibility, these sheets offer transparency, enabling their use on windows as well as other surfaces. David Chandler, reporting for MIT states that the new cells may prove to be far less expensive than today’s silicon equivalents, which require high-purity silicon that undergoes crystallization …

Thomas Alva Would Be Proud

Dean Sigler Electric Powerplants, Sustainable Aviation 0 Comments

The best batteries as now produced use expensive materials and processes to achieve high energy density.  Could a century-old idea be resurrected to provide an inexpensive alternative to today’s costly electric storage devices?   Science Daily reports on a recent attempt to improve on a proven technology. Stanford University’s Hongjie Dai, professor of chemistry and head of a research group, is working with the Edison battery, named for Thomas Alva Edison, and using the nickel-iron electrodes Edison favored, but with a modern twist to overcome one of its disadvantages. Stanford’s news bulletin quotes Dai.  “The Edison battery is very durable, but it has a number of drawbacks. A typical battery can take hours to charge, and the rate of discharge …

Buckminster Fuller Would Be Proud

Dean Sigler Uncategorized 0 Comments

We will need lighter structures to achieve better fuel economy, but what if the structure could also be part of the power system in a vehicle?  That seems to be one of the possibilities in this fascinating breakthrough in material science.  Graphenes are one-atom thick layers of carbon, and are the lightest, strongest structure yet achieved. Not only is this material the strongest yet found, but the nano material has tremendous promise in electronics and solar PV devices.  Consider that if it could be used to store and transmit current, a structure could be self-powering.  To what extent could this be borne out in actual graphene structures?