Graphene Oxide is a single carbon layer with oxygen based functional groups bonded across the surface. The structure of Graphene Oxide is complex and varies depending on the manufacturing route and reaction conditions used to synthesise it
Graphene Oxide (GO) is different to graphene, a single carbon layer with a honeycomb structure with no oxygen groups present. Graphene was isolated and characterised in 2004 at the University of Manchester by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov. In 2010 they were awarded a Nobel Prize for this research. The incredible strength, conductivity and flexibility of graphene meant its use was soon documented across a wide range of research areas. The potential for this advanced material has been accepted by the scientific community, the question is how to make it and isolate it on an industrial scale. The Nobel Prize winning work at Manchester used sticky tape to isolate graphene, not exactly suitable for large scale production! As such, intense research began to find a scalable route to graphene.
Graphite Oxide, the bulk material which disperses to yield Graphene Oxide, was first reported in 1859. While interest in graphene oxide was limited for many decades, the search for a scalable synthesis route to graphene led many to consider GO as a possible solution. The relationship between the two 2D materials allows graphene oxide to be reduced to a product very similar to graphene, known as reduced graphene oxide (rGO). Reduced Graphene Oxide differs from pure graphene in that the structure is not perfect. The defects in the material lead to slightly different properties in rGO compared to graphene, making the material interesting in its own right. While not a perfect substitute, rGO is very similar to graphene and acts as a suitable replacement in many applications. The GOgraphene chemists are currently working on a safe and scalable route for the manufacture of reduced Graphene Oxide and will offer rGO in the future.
The increased research around Graphene Oxide has led to a multitude of other applications for this advanced material aside from use as a graphene precursor. The presence of the oxygen based functional groups in Graphene Oxide result in different properties to graphene. GO is an insulating material which is highly hydrophilic. It is because of the high hydrophilicity of Graphene Oxide that it can form a stable dispersion in water; the polar oxygen groups allow water to intercalate between the layers, pushing them apart. There are many thousands of academic papers on Graphene Oxide, with new research taking place across the globe. Applications include catalyst supports, enhanced mechanical properties of engineering polymers and many more.
William Blythe has a wealth of experience in controlling physical properties and offering consistently high purity products. While other manufacturers may see difficulty in producing a consistently high quality 2D material, GOgraphene sees an opportunity to build on our research and manufacturing strengths and help further global research in this exciting advanced material.