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Making cork-like monoliths from graphene

By Paul Grad |

A team from Monash University (Melbourne, Australia; www.monash.edu.au) has prepared graphene monoliths with a cork-like hierarchical structure, exhibiting ultra-low density, superelasticity, good electrical conductivity and high efficiency of energy absorption. The ability to maintain structural integrity upon large deformation is important for many emerging applications, such as flexible electronic devices, carbon-based biological tissue scaffolds, and ultralight cellular materials for mechanical damping and thermal/acoustic insulation. Previously, several methods have been employed for constructing highly porous graphene cellular monoliths, such as chemical vapor deposition, but the resulting material is generally brittle and exhibits small recoverable deformation before failure. Professor Dan Li says the team was particularly impressed by the high mechanical efficiency of natural cork’s hierarchical structure. In cork, as well as in wood, cellulose nanofibers in the cell walls are closely packed in a highly ordered manner to maximize strength. Individual cells of tens of micrometers are intimately connected to form a honeycomb-like structure — maximizing the bulk-specific elastic modulus. The team therefore decided…
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