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TEDx Brussels: How the magic of nano connects blenders, printers and rubber bands

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. Don’t try this at home: How the magic of nano-materials connects kitchen blenders, printers and rubber bands​

Jonathan Coleman is one of the world’s leading research scientists in nanotechnology and materials science and an internationally acknowledged expert on graphene. Often hailed as a wonder material, graphene is an engineered single-atom-thick layer of carbon which has some extraordinary properties. Graphene is made of super-tough carbon-nanotube fibres, is 100 times stronger than steel, conducts electricity better than copper, and is exceedingly light. It’s also a great capacitor with many uses in energy storage. Potential applications graphene include aeroplane wings, flexible touch screens, bio-polymers in medicine, and 3D printing media.

The hardest part is actually making graphene in quantities usable by researchers, employing tools within practical reach of experimental research scientists. This is where Professor Coleman comes in. In 2008 he demonstrated a way of making large quantities of pure graphene by exfoliating it from graphite using ultrasound. Sonication as it’s called is effective, but nowhere near as good as the next innovation Coleman invented - the so-called shear mixing technique. This involves spinning blades in a graphite rich liquid and has proved remarkably effective - it’s even possible using a household food mixer.

Produced by TEDx.

Published 6 December 2014.

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Publishing date: 08 June 2016 00:19