The labs of Rice University chemist James Tour and Christopher Arnusch, a professor at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel, introduced a batch of LIG composites in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano the material's capabilities into more robust packages
By infusing LIG with plastic, rubber, cement, wax or other materials, the labs made composites with a wide range of possible applications. These new composites could be used in wearable electronics, in heat therapy, in water treatment, in anti-icing and deicing work, in the creation of antimicrobial surfaces and even in making resistive random-access memory devices
The Tour lab first made LIG in 201
4 when it used a commercial laser to burn the surface of a thin sheet of common plastic, polyimide. The laser's heat turned and sliver the material into flakes of interconnected graphene.
Since then, Rice Lab and others have expanded their investigation of LIG, even dropping the plastic to make it with wood and food. Last year, the Rice researchers created graphene foam for sculpting 3-D objects.
"The LIG is a great material, but it's not mechanically robust," said Tour, who co-authored an overview of laser-induced graphene developments in the Journal of Chemical Research journal last year. "You can bend it and flex it, but you can not rub your hand over it. It will shear off." If you do what's called a Scotch tape test on it, lots of it gets removed. and composite structure, it is really toughened up. "
To make the composites, the researchers have cast or pressed a thin layer of the second material over the LIG attached to the polyimide. When the liquid hardened, they pulled the polyimide away from the back for reuse, leaving the embedded, connected graphene flakes behind.
Soft composites can be used for active electronics in flexible clothing, while the harder composites make excellent superhydrophobic water-avoiding) materials. When a voltage is applied, the 20-micron-thick layer of LIG kills bacteria on the surface, making toughened versions of the material suitable for antibacterial applications