Making Nanomaterials Just Got A Lot Easier

Graphene is pretty cool stuff. It's the foundation of a lot of nanomaterials, and when it's only a single atom thick, it can stretch eternally in two dimensions. When it's more than one atom thick it behaves very differently, becoming graphite (which you often find in pencils). We already know a pretty easy way to get it pretty thin, but not reliably one-atom thin.

Enter a team from Rice University, who have figured out how to get the graphene exactly as thick as they want. They put on a layer of zinc before immersing the graphene in a bath of dilute HCl, which eats away the zinc and the single layer of graphene that it was touching. Using this method they can strip off an individual layer of graphene at a time, leaving behind as much or as little as they want, in any pattern they chose. This new method could lead to massively easier and cheaper production of nanomaterials.

Research published in Science, doi:10.1126/science.1199183