“Rebar graphene is more than twice as tough as pristine graphene. Researchers at Rice University researchers have found that Rebar didn’t keep graphene from ultimate failure, but the nanotubes slowed the process by forcing cracks to zig and zag as they propagated.
Graphene is a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon. On the two-dimensional scale, the material is stronger than steel, but because graphene is so thin, it is still subject to ripping and tearing.
Rebar graphene is the nanoscale analog of rebar (reinforcement bars) in concrete, in which embedded steel bars enhance the material’s strength and durability. Rebar graphene, developed by the Rice lab of chemist James Tour in 2014, uses carbon nanotubes for reinforcement.”
Graphene’s excellent conductivity makes it a strong candidate for devices, but its brittle nature is a downside, Lou said. His lab reported two years ago that graphene is only as strong as its weakest link. Those tests showed the strength of pristine graphene to be “substantially lower” than its reported intrinsic strength. In a later study, the lab found molybdenum diselenide, another two-dimensional material of interest to researchers, is also brittle.
Tour approached Lou and his group to carry out similar tests on rebar graphene, made by spin-coating single-walled nanotubes onto a copper substrate and growing graphene atop them via chemical vapor deposition.
Simulations by study co-author Huajian Gao and his team at Brown confirmed results from the physical experiments. Gao’s team found the same effects in simulations with orderly rows of rebar in graphene as those measured in the physical samples with rebar pointing every which way.
“The simulations are important because they let us see the process on a time scale that isn’t available to us with microscopy techniques, which only give us snapshots,” Lou said. “The Brown team really helped us understand what’s happening behind the numbers.”
He said the rebar graphene results are a first step toward the characterization of many new materials. “We hope this opens a direction people can pursue to engineer 2-D material features for applications,” Lou said.
Read more at: Nanotube ‘rebar’ makes graphene twice as tough