Troy, N.Y. Graphene is the thinnest material known to science. The nanomaterial is so thin, in fact, water often doesn't even know it's there.
Engineering researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Rice University coated pieces of gold, copper, and silicon with a single layer of graphene, and then placed a drop of water on the coated surfaces. Surprisingly, the layer of graphene proved to have virtually no impact on the manner in which water spreads on the surfaces.
Results of the study were published Sunday in the journal Nature Materials. The findings could help inform a new generation of graphene-based flexible electronic devices. Additionally, the research suggests a new type of heat pipe that uses graphene-coated copper to cool computer chips.
The discovery stemmed from a cross-university collaboration led by Rensselaer Professor Nikhil Koratkar and Rice Professor Pulickel Ajayan.
"We coated several different surfaces with graphene, and then put a drop of water on them to see what would happen. What we saw was a big surprisenothing changed. The graphene was completely transparent to the water," said Koratkar, a faculty member in the Department of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Nuclear Engineering and the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Rensselaer. "The single layer of graphene was so thin that it did not significantly disrupt the non-bonding van der Waals forces that control the interaction of water with the solid surface. It's an exciting discovery, and is another example of the unique and extraordinary characteristics of graphene."
Results of the study are detailed in the Nature Materials paper "Wetting transparency of graphene." See the paper online at: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/NMAT3228
Essentially an isolated layer of the graphite found commonly in our pencils or the charcoal we burn on our barbeques, graphen
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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute