Who: Karolina Zofia Milowska, Ikerbasque Research Fellow, Theory, CIC nanoGUNE
Place: nanoGUNE seminar room, Tolosa Hiribidea 76, Donostia - San Sebastian
Date: Monday, 13 June 2022, 11:00
The True Amphipathic Nature of Pristine Graphene Flakes
Karolina Zofia Milowska
Ikerbasque Research Fellow, Theory, CIC nanoGUNE
Graphene, due to its extraordinary electronic, thermal and mechanical properties, holds great promise for applications ranging from optoelectronic, through environmental to biomedical technologies. However, for many potential large scale processing routes to efficiently manufacture and commercialize graphene based devices, composites, coatings, membranes or inks it is essential to understand the fundamental colloidal properties of pristine graphene flakes. Despite significant progress in the field in recent years, their chemical character has remained incompletely understood and there has been no consensus whether pristine graphene flakes are typical hydrophobes [1,2,3] or could, under certain conditions, become wettable [4,5]. We have reinvestigated with wet-chemistry methods, optical and electron microscopies, quantum-mechanical, molecular dynamics and Monte Carlo studies . For the first time, calculations supported by experiments have revealed that pristine graphene flakes are 2D amphiphiles with well defined hydrophilic edges and hydrophobic basal plane surfaces the interplay of which allows small flakes to be utilised as surfactants. The interactions between flakes can be controlled by varying the flake size, its thickness and the oil-to-water ratio. Our findings reconcile all previous results on the chemical nature of graphene flakes. Pristine graphene flakes can stabilize water/oil emulsions even under high pressure, high temperature and in saline solutions, conditions under which conventional surfactants fail. In addition, I will also discuss the potential applications of graphene flakes in the area of sustainable energy generation.
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