Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?


Energy Efficiency

Water Droplet "Chaperons" Could Usher in New Era of Graphene Nanodevices

Scientists at the University of Illinois have found that nanodroplets of water could form graphene into precise shapes

Chemists at the University of Illinois at Chicago have found that nano-sized water droplets can act as molecular chaperons that guide graphene into precise nano-shapes including capsules, knots, rings and even sandwiches.  Graphene is a futuristic nanomaterial that forms sheets the thickness of one atom.


The finding is based on computer simulations, which show that water molecules can act on graphene without forming a chemical bond.  If it proves commercially practical, it could advance the use of graphene in a wide range of more energy efficient and sustainable applications, from super-batteries and photovoltaics to desalination membranes.

Just One Word…Graphene

In 1967 the word was plastics.  Now graphene seems to be taking over as the “it” material.  Discovered just a few years ago, graphene can be processed and used to manufacture electronics, using familiar steps that have already been developed to process silicon.  As one of the strongest known materials it is more robust than silicon, and more easily manipulated than another futuristic silicon alternative, carbon nanotubes.  Graphene occurs naturally in flakes of graphite, a familiar material that is used in pencils, batteries, and brake linings.  Scientists are developing ways to mass-produce graphene in a commercially useful form, for example by growing it on sheets of silicon carbide.

Graphene Shows the Way to a More Sustainable Future

The Chicago finding is complemented by a raft of new developments in graphene research, for example at Georgia Tech, where scientists have found that the electrons in graphene are far more mobile than in silicon, even at room temperature.  This could lead to the development of graphene based electronic systems that are far smaller and more energy efficient than their silicon based counterparts.  It could cut a significant chunk out of the global e-waste problem simply by reducing the size of most electronic products, while also cutting down on their carbon footprint.

Image: Water droplet by .ygor on

Appreciate CleanTechnica’s originality and cleantech news coverage? Consider becoming a CleanTechnica Member, Supporter, Technician, or Ambassador — or a patron on Patreon.
Have a tip for CleanTechnica, want to advertise, or want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Written By

Tina specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.


You May Also Like


Tiny Luxembourg aims to dominate the graphene nanotube market for next-generation EV batteries and other sustainable tech.

Clean Power

Brothers in Rice lab find audio from graphene production contains valuable data Originally published on Rice University, Rice News. By Mike Williams It may...


The race is on to build the solar-powered Evs of the future, and it looks like graphene and TMDs could get the ball rolling.


To discover materials for better batteries, researchers must wade through a vast field of candidates. New research demonstrates a machine learning technique that could...

Copyright © 2021 CleanTechnica. The content produced by this site is for entertainment purposes only. Opinions and comments published on this site may not be sanctioned by and do not necessarily represent the views of CleanTechnica, its owners, sponsors, affiliates, or subsidiaries.