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Scientists develop high-quality graphene from soybean

Scientists from Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) have made world’s strongest material graphene commercially more viable by using soybean.

They have developed a novel “GraphAir technology” which transforms soybean oil, a renewable, natural material into graphene films in a single step.

Background

Earlier, graphene was produced in a highly-controlled environment with explosive compressed gases that required long hours of operation at high temperatures and extensive vacuum processing. This production process was costly and was major roadblock in its commercialisation.

About GraphAir technology

  • The technology grows graphene film in ambient air with a natural precursor, making its production faster and simpler. Soybean oil breaks down into a range of carbon building units when heat is applied. It makes it essential for the synthesis of graphene films.
  • Significance: This unique technology makes graphene fabrication fast, simple, safe, potentially scalable and integration friendly. It results in good and transformable graphene properties, comparable to graphene made by conventional methods. It is expected to reduce cost of graphene production and improve uptake in new applications. Besides, it can also help to produce graphene from waste oil, leftover from cooking.

What is Graphene?

Graphene is a carbon material that is one atom thick. It is the world’s strongest and lightest known material derived from carbon. It has high conductivity and excellent electronic, mechanical, thermal and optical properties. It is used in many applications ranging from miniaturised electronics to biomedical devices, water filtration and purification, renewable energy, sensors, personalised healthcare and medicine etc. It also used to improve battery performance in energy devices, to cheaper solar panels.

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Scientists develop Thubber, stretchable rubber material with high thermal conductivity

Scientists have developed novel rubber like material nicknamed ‘thubber’ which has high thermal conductivity and elasticity.

It is an electrically insulating composite material that exhibits an unprecedented combination of metal-like thermal conductivity, elasticity similar to soft, biological tissue.

Key Facts
  • Thubber consists of a soft elastomer with non-toxic, liquid metal microdroplets suspended within it. This semi-liquid state allows the metal to deform with the surrounding rubber at room temperature.
  • When it is pre-stretched at room temperature, it stretches up to six times its initial length. During this phase, liquid metal microdroplets form into elongated pathways through which heat can easily travel through. At the same time, the material is electrically insulating.
  • Potential applications: In developing wearable computing and soft robotics, industries like athletic wear and sports medicine and in advanced manufacturing, energy, and transportation etc.

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Scientists identify world’s most heat resistant materials

A team of UK-based researchers have identified Hafnium carbide (HfC) as the world’s most heat resistant material.

It can withstand record melting point temperatures up to 3958°C (approx 4000°C). New Laser-heating techniques were used to find the temperature at which Tantalum carbide (TaC) and HfC melted, both separately and in mixed compositions.

Key Facts
  • Hafnium carbide (HfC) and Tantalum carbide (TaC) are refractory ceramicse. they are extraordinarily resistant to heat.
  • Researchers found TaC melted at 3,768 degrees Celsius, and HfC melted at 3,958 degrees Celsius. Besides, the mixed compound (Ta0.8Hf0.20C) exceeded its previous recorded melting point.
  • These materials at present are mainly used in thermal protection systems on high-speed vehicles and as fuel cladding in the super-heated environments of nuclear reactors.
  • This discovery may pave the way for improved heat resistant shielding for the faster-than-ever hypersonic space vehicles. It means that future spacecraft could become more faster than ever.
  • Currently hypersonic aircraft travelling above Mach 5 (5 times speed of sound) speed creates very high temperatures as friction is involved when travelling this speed limit.
  • This means that these materials will enable spacecraft to withstand the extreme heat generated from leaving and re-entering the atmosphere.

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