D.I.Y. Graphene: How to Make One-Atom-Thick Carbon Layers With Sticky Tape

Graphene, science's latest wonder material, is surprisingly easy to produce. JR Minkel explores how to make the novel substance, which is discussed in detail in Carbon Wonderland
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We had some luck, but not much. Amid the graphite and adhesive gunk in our sample was this pile of graphene layers, including what Jarillo-Herrero said was a tiny patch of single-layer graphene at the bottom left.....[ More ]


If you're lucky, you'll get some graphene: highly transparent, crystalline shapes with little color compared with the rest of the wafer. That steplike pattern is a pile of graphene sheets layered on top of one another.....[ More ]


Place the wafer under a good microscope fitted with a 50X or 100X objective lens. You should see plenty of graphite debris: large, shiny chunks of all sorts of shapes and colors.....[ More ]


With the tongs, keep the wafer planted on the surface while slowly peeling off the tape. This step should take 30 to 60 seconds to minimize shredding of any graphene you have created.....[ More ]


Carefully lay the cleaved graphite sample that remains stuck to the tape on the silicon. Using soft plastic tongs, gently press out any air between the tape and sample. Now here comes the boring part: Pass the tongs lightly but firmly over the sample for 10 minutes.....[ More ]


Repeat step 3 around 10 times until you get a nice Rorschach inkblot-style pattern. As you fold the tape, try to keep the flakes tightly spaced without letting them overlap too much. You'll know you've reached the last couple of folds when the graphite starts to lose its sheen.....[ More ]


Attach a graphite flake to about six inches (15 centimeters) of plastic sticky tape with tweezers. Fold the tape right next to the flake so that you sandwich it between the tape's sticky sides. Press down gingerly to get a good seal and then peel the tape apart slowly enough so that the graphite cleaves smoothly in two.....[ More ]


Prepare a wafer of oxidized silicon, which makes graphene layers stand out under a microscope. To smooth out the surface to accept the graphene and clean it thoroughly, Jarillo-Herrero (shown here) and his co-workers apply a mix of hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide, known in the lab as "piranha."....[ More ]


Work in a relatively clean environment (or even a clean room, if possible); stray dirt or hair wreaks havoc with graphene samples. To get that clean room vibe on the cheap, grab some goggles and rubber gloves, along with a shower cap for your head as well as two more for each foot.....[ More ]

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