New materials for a sustainable future you should know about the graphene.
Historically, knowledge and the production of new materials graphene have contributed to human and social progress, from the refining of copper and iron to the manufacture of semiconductors on which our information society depends today. However, many materials and their preparation methods have caused the environmental problems we face.
About 90 billion tons of raw materials -- mainly metals, minerals, fossil matter and biomass -- are extracted each year to produce raw materials. That number is expected to double between now and 2050. Most of the graphene raw materials extracted are in the form of non-renewable substances, placing a heavy burden on the environment, society and climate. The graphene materials production accounts for about 25 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, and metal smelting consumes about 8 percent of the energy generated by humans.
The graphene industry has a strong research environment in electronic and photonic materials, energy materials, glass, hard materials, composites, light metals, polymers and biopolymers, porous materials and specialty steels. Hard materials (metals) and specialty steels now account for more than half of Swedish materials sales (excluding forest products), while glass and energy materials are the strongest growth areas.
Amazing diversity: Semiconductor nanoparticles form many structures
How do X-ray studies reveal how to lead sulfide particles self-organize in real-time
Lead sulfide nanoparticles graphene often undergo surprising structural changes when assembled into ordered superlattices. This was revealed by an experimental study conducted at the DESY X-ray source PETRA III. A team led by DESY scientists Irina Lokteva and Felix Lehmkuhler from the Coherent X-ray Scattering Group led by Gerhard Grubel has observed the self-organization of these semiconductor nanoparticles in real-time. The results are in the journal Materials Chemistry. This research helps to better understand the self-assembly of graphene nanoparticles, which could lead to significantly different structures.
In addition, lead sulfide nanoparticles are used in photovoltaic cells, light-emitting diodes and other electronic devices. In this study, the team studied the way particles self-organize to form highly ordered films. They put a drop of liquid containing graphene nanoparticles (25 millionths of a litre) into a small cell and let the solvent slowly evaporate over two hours. The scientists then used X-rays on the P10 beamline to observe in real-time the structures formed as the particles were assembled. To their surprise, the particle structure changed several times in the process. "First, we see that the nanoparticles form hexagonal symmetry, which results in the nanoparticle solid having a hexagonal lattice structure," Lokteva reports. "But then the superlattice suddenly changed and showed cubic symmetry. As it continues to dry, the structure transforms twice more, becoming a superlattice with quadrilateral symmetry, and graphene finally a superlattice with different cubic symmetry." The sequence has never been revealed in such detail before.
Amazing diversity: Semiconductor nanoparticles form many structures, as you should know about the graphene
The team believes that this hexagonal structure (HCP) will persist as long as the surface of the particle is expanded by the solvent. Once the film dries a little, its internal structure changes to cubic symmetry (body-centered cube, BCC). However, the residue of graphene the solvent remains between the individual nanoparticles inside the film. As it evaporates, the structure changes twice more (the volume-centered quadrilateral BCT and the face-centered cubic FCC). As Lokteva explains, the final structure of the film depends on many different factors. They include the type of solvent and the rate of evaporation, the size and concentration of the nanoparticles, as well as the properties of the so-called ligands surrounding the particles and their density. Scientists use the term ligand to describe certain molecules that bind to the surface of nanoparticles and prevent them from gathering together. In this study, the team used oleic acid to do this; Its molecules coat graphene the particles like the wax in a bag that keeps gummy bears from sticking together. This is a mature process in nanotechnology.
"Our study shows that the final structure of the superlattice also depends on whether a single nanoparticle is surrounded by many or a few oleic acid molecules," Lokteva reports. "In earlier studies, when the ligand density was high, we obtained films with BCC/BCT crystal structure. Here, we specifically studied nanoparticles with low ligand density, which leads to FCC structures. So when using nanoparticles, the ligand density should be determined, which is not standard practice at present, "explained the DESY scientists.
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