One of the graphene discoverers, Professor Andre Heim of the University of Manchester, UK, recently told the public at the 2016 China International Graphene Innovation Conference that he had spent 90% of his time after winning the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics. Basic laboratory research. The innovative thinking he presented in his speech was refreshing and open-minded.
Graphene is rich in plasticity, can be rolled into a cylindrical shape, into a one-dimensional carbon nanotubes; can also be made spherical or ellipsoidal, to obtain zero-dimensional fullerenes.
â– Chinese and foreign graphene dynamics
Open the new world of 2D materials
For a long time, people do not know much about crystals of two-dimensional structures. Two-dimensional crystals exist in a planar form, as if thinning a three-dimensional crystal to one atomic layer thickness. Traditional theory believes that quasi-two-dimensional crystal structures cannot be found in nature because of their thermodynamic instability. Until 2004, Andrei Heim and his colleague Konstantin Novoselov succeeded for the first time to separate single-layer graphene sheets from high-altitude pyrolytic graphiteâ€”graphene. It turns out that two-dimensional materials can be used at room temperature. It is stable under normal pressure.
It can be said that the discovery of graphene opened the world of two-dimensional materials. Heim pointed out: "Graphene is not a unique two-dimensional material. There are many two-dimensional materials with special properties that may perform better in some applications. In addition to graphene, there are many similar materials with graphene that are worth exploring. ."
For example, phosphene is a monolithic material composed of ordered phosphorus atoms that are stripped from black phosphorus. Some of its features can be applied to multiple fields. Moreover, the nonlinear optical properties of black phosphorus have been proven by many agencies to produce ultrafast lasers. It is expected that it will become the "second graphene" in the near future.
Silylene is a material that is only monolayer thick and can grow on the surface of silver at the same time. It has some material properties similar to graphene, but at the same time there are some more excellent features, including a lower symmetry group and stronger Spin-orbit coupling. Researchers are exploring that it may be better suited to integrate with silicon-based electronic devices and become a competitor to graphene.
Atomic layer do Lego stitching
For graphene, researchers can do a variety of stitching on their atomic layers, as if children were playing Lego blocks. For example, graphene is stacked one on top of another in a stacking manner to generate three-dimensional graphite; the graphene is rolled into a cylinder and becomes one-dimensional carbon nanotubes; the graphene is made into a spherical or ellipsoidal shape, and a zero-dimensional richness is obtained. Lemone. Thus, graphene can be used as a structural basis for composing other carbon materials.
Heim pointed out: "The artificial integration of graphene with other materials takes several weeks to design atoms with a complex structure, which will make graphene more 'magic', and based on this, the different characteristics of these materials. In-depth study. Such research results can be called graphene 3.0."
For example, the study of graphene as a matrix for the preparation of nanocomposite materials has extended the application of graphene. At present, there are mainly three kinds of composite methods for graphene: firstly, surface modification or element doping makes it possible to form a stable dispersion system in different solvents; secondly, it allows inorganic nanoparticles such as metal or metal oxides to be supported. The composite materials will have a wide range of applications in catalysis, biosensing, batteries, and supercapacitors; composites of graphene and polymers can exhibit superior performance in mechanical properties, photovoltaic cells, and supercapacitors.
Of course, the research of graphene composites is still faced with many problems and challenges, such as the interaction mechanism of graphene and inorganic nanoparticles, the compatibility with high polymers, the development and application of composite materials, etc. the study.
Amazing discovery in discards
In the preparation of graphene, people tend to focus on graphene, and the Heim team does not miss the material that is usually discarded after the single-layer graphene is stripped.
Heim said: "Amplifying the remaining graphite block crystals is a two-dimensional vacuum zone. There are many structures like ultra-fine capillaries. It is about 15 nanometers in size. When we do the water transport test, we are surprised to find that the water flow With this ultra-narrow capillary tube, it is virtually unobstructed and free from friction, reaching a flow rate of 1 m/s, and the tube wall is very smooth, and the water slip distance is long."
The Haim team explained that this is a new nano-scale system and the capillary channel's precision cannot be imagined. What's more, these ultramicrocapillaries can be used to make a variety of materials that not only control the capillary size, but also modulate the performance of the capillary wall. These materials are expected to be used in new filtration, desalination and gas separation technologies in the future.
Heim added: "A lot of scientific discoveries in the basic research of graphene are surprising, and it is very cool to make newly discovered materials useful, and there are countless possibilities for research and development to be explored. Research deeply affects us."
Undoubtedly, the discovery of graphene provides the researcher with a research object full of charm and imagination. Following the â€œfather of grapheneâ€ to learn how to do basic research can constantly refresh the vision of innovation. It is believed that in the near future, "generalist" graphene will surely bring about subversive changes in many areas.
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