From left to right, A vial of graphite (Gr), like what you would find in an ordinary pencil; a vial of graphene oxide (GO), produced by exfoliating Gr--shedding the layers of the material -- and mixing it with the bacteria Shewanella; a vial of the resulting product -- graphene materials (mrGO); and a vial of graphene materials that have been produced chemically (crGO).
The researchers outline their method to produce graphene materials using a novel technique: mixing oxidized graphite with bacteria.
Credit: University of Rochester / J. Adam Fenster In order to produce larger quantities of graphene materials, Meyer and her colleagues started with a vial of graphite.
While the bacterially-produced graphene material created in Meyer's lab is conductive, it is also thinner and more stable than graphene produced chemically.
Graphene oxide that has been reduced is an ideal material because it is lightweight and very conductive, but it typically retains a small number of oxygen groups that can be used to bind to the molecules of interest.
The bacterially produced graphene material could also be the basis for conductive inks, which could, in turn, be used to make faster and more efficient computer keyboards, circuit boards, or small wires such as those used to defrost car windshields.
"We were even able to develop a technique of 'bacterial lithography' to create graphene materials that were only conductive on one side, which can lead to the development of new, advanced nanocomposite materials."