Published on April 23rd, 2014 | by James Ayre


Graphene From The Kitchen Blender — Wonder Material Created With Nothing But Graphite And A Blender

April 23rd, 2014 by  

The endlessly hyped, next-generation wonder material graphene can apparently be created using nothing but graphite, water, dishwasing detergent, and a kitchen blender — based on recent findings from researchers at Trinity College Dublin.

The one-atom thick honeycombed sheets of carbon have a great number of potential applications in renewable energy technologies, electronics, the aerospace industry, etc. A cheap means of manufacturing the material would allow such applications to become notably more economical.

Graphene - Credit: nobeatsofierce/Shutterstock.

The conventional methods of manufacturing graphene are generally quite tedious, complex, and/or expensive — which makes the new method based around a normal everyday kitchen blender seem all the more humorous. 🙂

The researchers from the Irish-UK team simply poured graphite powder (think of pencil leads) into a kitchen blender, added water, added dishwashing liquid, and then mixed at high speed. And, viola! Graphene.

BBC Science provides more:

Jonathan Coleman from Trinity College Dublin and colleagues tested out a variety of laboratory mixers as well as kitchen blenders as potential tools for manufacturing the wonder material.

They showed that the shearing force generated by a rapidly rotating tool in solution was sufficiently intense to separate the layers of graphene that make up graphite flakes without damaging their two-dimensional structure.

However, it’s not advisable to try this at home. The precise amount of dishwashing fluid that’s required is dependent on a number of different factors and the black solution containing graphene would need to be separated afterwards. But the researchers said their work “provides a significant step” towards deploying graphene in a variety of commercial applications.

The researchers are now working with the UK-based firm Thomas Swan to scale the process up to the industrial level — with the aim being to build a pilot project that could produce about a kilo of graphene a day by the end of the 2014.

The new findings were just published in the journal Nature Materials. You can find the paper here.

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About the Author

's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy. You can follow his work on Google+.

  • Steven F

    The researchers in this article didn’t create graphene. Instead they found a very simple way to separate out the graphene that occurs naturally in small quantities in graphite. The first physical sample of graphene was in fact found in the graphite of a pencil lead. Unfortunately the small flakes of graphene found in graphite are too small to be of limited use to industry. To really take advantage of the properties of graphene you need large defect free sheets of it.

    • TVulgaris

      A very significant number of the spectacularly interesting and useful characteristics of graphene and other 2D materials comes from the presence of lattice defects (which are going to be present entropicly anyway, regardless of purity or production method).
      This bulk separation technique now forces the issue of properly engineering the “calendaring” of the flakes for size and relative concentration, distribution, and morphology of the defects the other methods of “production” already face for producing the various grades and sizes of sheet various applications require.
      Most of the early applications developed for graphene had few if any such requirements past chemical purity, the proper choice of surfactant and post-production processing makes this a fantastic elegant engineering solution for bulk “production.”

  • J_JamesM

    How exactly would the graphene gained from this process be useful, though? If I wanted to make, say, a sheet of the stuff, could I use the graphene made by this method? Or would it just be a weak papery mess?

  • JamesWimberley

    Ireland is broke. I’m pleasantly surprised the TCD researchers could afford a “variety of kitchen blenders”.

    • Benjamin Nead

      Very funny, James. My wife and son recently visited Ireland and found it to be beautiful and delightful. No graphene blending while they were there, alas. Old castles and green grassy countryside (both in short supply here in the Arizona desert) primarily piqued their interest.

      This business of home-made graphene, actually, has been done already, To answer J_JamesM’s question, the next step is to paint the blended graphene liquid onto the top (non-playing) side of a CD-R (or DVD-R,) insert it into a LaCie LightScribe machine and let the laser mechanism that would normally be etching a label onto a CD-R “cook” the carbon liquid. Then, peel off and roll up into supercapacitors and the like. The story reported here on Clean Tecnica, in fact, a couple years ago . . .

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