Working with research groups from China, the Netherlands, Poland and Russia, Manchester University scientists have created a new material that could replace or compete with Teflon.
Prof Andre Geim, who, along with his colleague Prof Kostya Novoselov, won the 2010 Nobel Prize for graphene, has now modified it to make fluorographene – a one-molecule-thick fully fluorinated graphene chemically similar to Teflon, that shows showing similar properties, including chemical inertness and thermal stability.
The team hope that fluorographene, which is a flat, crystal version of Teflon and is mechanically as strong as graphene, could be used as a thinner, lighter version of Teflon, but could also be used in electronics, such as for new types of LED devices.
Prof Geim and his team first obtained graphene as individual crystals and then fluorinated it by using atomic fluorine. The fluorographene they created is a wide-gap semiconductor and is optically transparent for visible light, unlike graphene that is a semimetal.
Rahul Nair, who led the research for the last two years and is a PhD student working with Prof Geim, said: ’We plan to use fluorographene an ultra-thin tunnel barrier for development of light-emitting devices and diodes.
’More mundane uses can be everywhere Teflon is currently used, as an ultra-thin protective coating, or as a filler for composite materials if one needs to retain the mechanical strength of graphene but avoid any electrical conductivity or optical opacity of a composite.’
Industrial-scale production of fluorographene is not seen as a problem as it would involve following the same steps as mass production of graphene.