MIT engineers developed a methodology to pierce microscopic holes into laboratory created graphene.
The technique allowing perforation in large sheets of graphene is used to make filtering certain molecules out of solutions vastly more efficient. In laboratories thicker polymer membrane is used to filter out specific molecules from solution, such as proteins, amino acids, chemicals, and salts.
The researchers discovered that altering the temperature during the processing of graphene molecule to a lower level helps in producing pores of the desired sizes in its membranes. The findings were published in the journal Advanced Materials on October 10, 2018. The other collaborative institutes taking part in the research included Oxford University, the National University of Singapore, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Piran Kidambi, formerly an MIT postdoc and now an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University, said: “If you take this to a roll-to-roll manufacturing process, it’s a game changer. You don’t need anything else. Just reduce the temperature, and we have a fully integrated manufacturing setup for graphene membranes.”
The team devised the technique to produce nanometer-sized pores in graphene, by formulating pristine graphene using conventional methods initially. After this they employed oxygen plasma to scratch away at the fully formed material allowing to form desired sized pores. They produced nanoporous graphene directly during chemical vapor deposition process.
The developed technique finds its way into any large-scale manufacturing of graphene due to its easy processing nature. The researchers believe that their technique might find use in biotechnological separations including in the preparation of drugs or molecular therapeutics, or perhaps in dialysis therapies.