Graphite, when transformed into a layer just one carbon atom thick, becomes an electrically conductive layer, known as graphene. Graphene has mesmerising possibilities – flexible electronics, energy storage and an array of new materials with applications in aerospace, tissue engineering and membrane separations. However graphene layers pack together tightly and the stumbling block has been to get graphene into a useable, stable form.
Researchers from Monash Engineering have invented a cost-effective and scalable way to split graphite into microscopic sheets and introduce ions or molecules between the layers to form a stable graphene gel that can then be converted into a number of useful products. One such application is production of next generation super-capacitors, where the improved performance of the gel allows for more than a 3-fold increase in storage capacity compared with traditional super-capacitors. The gel can also be converted into a high strength, highly porous and elastic graphene foam which has been used as a biosensor and as a tissue scaffold. This technology and its applications have been licensed to SupraG Energy, which is a Monash spinout company backed by private investment.