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Making graphene out of eucalyptus trees

Researchers at RMIT University in Australia developed a cost-effective and eco-friendly way using eucalyptus trees, one of Australia’s most abundant resources.

Since its discovery in 2004, graphene has been used in a numerous amount of products and composite materials. Being only one atom thick,it is one of the thinnest and strongest materials known to humans. The material is flexible, transparent, and conducts heat and electricity 10 times better than copper.

The main problem with graphene is that it is relatively hard and expensive to produce. The most common method to make graphene is chemical reduction. However, this method relies heavily on reducing agents that are dangerous to both people and the environment. This is where the new research comes in.

The RMIT team, in collaboration with the National Institute of Technology in India, developed a method to synthesise graphene from eucalyptus bark. Eucalyptus trees are one of the most common trees in Australia. The method uses no toxic reagents, but the graphene is of the same quality and brings the price down from about 100 USD per gram to merely 50 cents.

Photo: Janak Poudel