By: Mike Williams, Rice University
A new type of conductive graphene foam is incredibly tough and can be formed into just about any shape and size.
A chunk of the foam, which is reinforced by carbon nanotubes, can support more than 3,000 times its own weight and easily bounce back to its original height.
The Rice University lab of chemist James Tour tested this new “rebar graphene” as a highly porous, conductive electrode in lithium ion capacitors and found it to be mechanically and chemically stable. The results appear in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.
Carbon in the form of atom-thin graphene is among the strongest materials known and is highly conductive; multiwalled carbon nanotubes are widely used as conductive reinforcements in metals, polymers and carbon matrix composites. The Tour lab had already used nanotubes to reinforce two-dimensional sheets of graphene. Extending the concept to macroscale materials made sense, says Tour, a professor of computer science and of materials science and nanoengineering.
“We developed graphene foam, but it wasn’t tough enough for the kind of applications we had in mind, so using carbon nanotubes to reinforce it was a natural next step,” Tour adds.