Graphene strands self-assemble into yarn
Discovery may lead to nano repairs, lower-cost manufacturing Metal Tech News – May 12, 2021
Last updated 5/18/2021 at 3:16pm
A team of researchers from Zhejiang University, Xi'an Jiaotong University, and Monash University has developed a method to bind multiple strands of graphene oxide into a self-assembling yarn.
Published in the journal "Science," the group has described the process and possible uses, comparing the discovery to how biological systems work.
Borrowing terms from physics, the team compared the process to fusion, where two materials self-assemble into a third material. As well as reversing the process, called fission, when a single material separates into two or more other materials.
Material scientists have been exploring the possibility of manufacturing products using total or partial self-organization for manufacturing products faster or at a lower cost. This discovery is another step toward that goal.
Although the experimentation has been very rudimentary, persistent exploration of the uses of graphene continues to unlock discoveries. The work so far by the research team has been comprised of soaking multiple strands of graphene oxide in a special solvent for roughly 10 minutes. When removed, it was found that the strands were bunched together, forming a single string.
This showed that a molecular merger had occurred.
Furthermore, the team discovered a means to reverse the process by submerging the "graphene yarn" in a different solution, which separated into individual strands.
Figure 1 – shows the different stages of self-fusion and self-fission. From C1 to C4, you can see the process of the separate threads merging to form a larger cohesive whole, yet also becoming singular. When observing the self-fission of E1 to E4, the reversing process shows a return to its near-original state.
The team found this process happens due to the unique properties of graphene, a two-dimensional flat plane of carbon atoms, latticed in perfect uniformity, making it the thinnest and strongest nanomaterial.
While research is in early development, peer review has suggested the technology could find use in complex manufacturing operations. And while any exciting prospects may be several years from now, this is still as good a place as any for self-repairing nanobots to make their start.