Graphene under pressure

This visualisation shows layers of graphene used for membranes. Credit: University of Manchester

Small balloons made from one-atom-thick material graphene can withstand enormous pressures, much higher than those at the bottom of the deepest ocean, scientists at the University of Manchester report.

This is due to graphene's incredible strength - 200 times stronger than steel.

The graphene routinely form when placing graphene on flat substrates and are usually considered a nuisance and therefore ignored. The Manchester researchers, led by Professor Irina Grigorieva, took a closer look at the nano- and revealed their fascinating properties.

These bubbles could be created intentionally to make tiny pressure machines capable of withstanding enormous pressures. This could be a significant step towards rapidly detecting how molecules react under extreme pressure.

Writing in Nature Communications, the scientists found that the shape and dimensions of the nano-bubbles provide straightforward information about both graphene's elastic strength and its interaction with the underlying substrate.

The researchers found such balloons can also be created with other two-dimensional crystals such as single layers of (MoS2) or boron nitride.

They were able to directly measure the pressure exerted by graphene on a material trapped inside the balloons, or vice versa.

To do this, the team indented bubbles made by graphene, monolayer MoS2 and monolayer boron nitride using a tip of an and measured the force that was necessary to make a dent of a certain size.

These measurements revealed that enclosing bubbles of a micron size creates pressures as high as 200 megapascals, or 2,000 atmospheres. Even higher pressures are expected for smaller bubbles.

Ekaterina Khestanova, a PhD student who carried out the experiments, said: "Such pressures are enough to modify the properties of a material trapped inside the bubbles and, for example, can force crystallization of a liquid well above its normal freezing temperature'.

Sir Andre Geim, a co-author of the paper, added: "Those balloons are ubiquitous. One can now start thinking about creating them intentionally to change enclosed materials or study the properties of atomically thin membranes under high strain and pressure."

Explore further

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More information: Universal shape and pressure inside bubbles appearing in van der Waals Heterostructures, by E. Khestanova, F. Guinea, L. Fumagalli, A. K. Geim, and I. V. Grigorieva, Nature Communications, 2016.
Journal information: Nature Communications

Citation: Graphene under pressure (2016, August 25) retrieved 19 August 2019 from
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Aug 25, 2016
Perhaps these graphene bubbles could contain hydrogen sulphide gas and then pressurize it to such a degree to enable room temperature superconductivity.

Aug 25, 2016
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Aug 25, 2016
I had been wondering if we could "fill" graphene balloons with a vacuum
This could be made as a lighter than air foam or other form
It could be useful for near space transport for NASA and near ground for practical purposes
Better than non renewable hydrogen or helium,
it looks possible from this
It would be interesting to crunch the numbers

The idea of a micro-creation plant that could adjust lift from creating and destroying graphene foam isn't there yet.
It would be an interesting stretch if the technology worked
The potential for creating a sky hook may be there.

Aug 25, 2016
About half way through the calcs on the vacuum spheres and looking possible, but not necessarily practical
Using Young's modulus 2.0TPa
Density 2200 kg/ meter cube

Aug 25, 2016
About half way through the calcs on the vacuum spheres and looking possible, but not necessarily practical
Cool beans, cities in the clouds :)
See Aerographite: 6x lighter than air, conductive and super strong
Also check out Aerogel: See-through, strong as steel & lighter than air

Aug 25, 2016
Nice links, thanks Mix will have to have a look at how they've got to their lighter than air numbers as the data looked incomplete

Aug 26, 2016
which already work and they shouldn't ignore research just because it doesn't fit their theories well (video).
Wait, I can't see how big the copper bar under the black strip is, can you?

Aug 26, 2016
How about nested spheres for higher pressure? The limit might be quite high...

Aug 26, 2016
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Aug 27, 2016
Can't wait to get one at the amusement park.

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