The New Smoothie Craze: Make Graphene in Your Blender

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
April 22 2014 10:44 AM

The New Smoothie Craze: Make Graphene in Your Blender

graphene
An illustration of a graphene sheet at the atomic scale.

Illustration from Shutterstock.

Graphene, everyone's favorite nanomaterial, holds promise for many different fields. The problem is that a single layer of carbon atoms is difficult to mass-produce at high quality. But a paper published Sunday in Nature Materials proposes a new method for manufacturing it, and all you need is graphite powder, some dish soap, water, and a blender.

A group of Irish researchers from Trinity College Dublin found that adding lubricant to the graphite and agitating it in a device like a blender (in this case, a laboratory mixer) allowed the sheets of graphene that make up the graphite to slide apart.

Advertisement

They also tested the method with an actual home blender and Fairy Liquid, a dishwashing liquid sold in the U.K. And it worked! When the researchers examined the mixture with an electron microscope, they found high-quality graphene.

You need real lab equipment to get the proportions of the mixture right and then do anything with it after it goes through the blender, so it's probably not actually worth trying at home. But the team's funder, the chemical firm Thomas Swan, is enthusiastic about the finding and is already working on ways to harvest the graphene produced from this method.

Jamba Juice probably won't start making graphene alongside your raspberry smoothie any time soon, but maybe it should consider this an opportunity to diversify.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Lily Hay Newman is lead blogger for Future Tense.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Science

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

We Could Fix Climate Change for Free. Now There’s Just One Thing Holding Us Back.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 17 2014 7:03 PM Once Again, a Climate Policy Hearing Descends Into Absurdity
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 17 2014 6:53 PM LGBTQ Luminaries Honored With MacArthur “Genius” Fellowships
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 6:14 PM Today in Gender Gaps: Biking
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 5:56 PM Watch Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle, Bill Hicks, Mitch Hedberg, and More on New YouTube Channel
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 7:23 PM MIT Researchers Are Using Smartphones to Interact With Other Screens
  Health & Science
Jurisprudence
Sept. 17 2014 4:49 PM Schooling the Supreme Court on Rap Music Is it art or a true threat of violence?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?