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Highly thermally conductive and mechanically strong graphene fibers

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Science  04 Sep 2015:
Vol. 349, Issue 6252, pp. 1083-1087
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa6502

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A superior mix of big and small

Graphene is often described as an unrolled carbon nanotube. However, although nanotubes are known for their exceptional mechanical and conductivity properties, the same is not true of graphene-based fibers. Xin et al. intercalated small fragments of graphene into the gaps formed by larger graphene sheets that had been coiled into fibers. Once annealed, the large sheets provided pathways for conduction, while the smaller fragments helped reinforce the fibers. The result? Superior thermal and electrical conductivity and mechanical strength.

Science, this issue p. 1083

Abstract

Graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms bonded in a hexagonal lattice, is the thinnest, strongest, and stiffest known material and an excellent conductor of heat and electricity. However, these superior properties have yet to be realized for graphene-derived macroscopic structures such as graphene fibers. We report the fabrication of graphene fibers with high thermal and electrical conductivity and enhanced mechanical strength. The inner fiber structure consists of large-sized graphene sheets forming a highly ordered arrangement intercalated with small-sized graphene sheets filling the space and microvoids. The graphene fibers exhibit a submicrometer crystallite domain size through high-temperature treatment, achieving an enhanced thermal conductivity up to 1290 watts per meter per kelvin. The tensile strength of the graphene fiber reaches 1080 megapascals.

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