Layered and scrolled nanocomposites with aligned semi-infinite graphene inclusions at the platelet limit

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Science  22 Jul 2016:
Vol. 353, Issue 6297, pp. 364-367
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaf4362

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Stacking up the filler material

In composite materials, a strong or stiff filler is added to a softer matrix to create a combined material with better mechanical or electrical properties. To minimize the filler content, it needs to be uniformly distributed in the composite, which is particularly challenging for nanoscale materials. Liu et al. alternately stacked sheets of graphene and polycarbonate to make a base composite. By further cutting and stacking, up to 320 aligned layers were made with a very uniform filler distribution. Alternatively, the initial stack could be rolled into a rod. In both cases, the properties exceeded what might be expected from a simple combination of the two materials.

Science, this issue p. 364


Two-dimensional (2D) materials can uniquely span the physical dimensions of a surrounding composite matrix in the limit of maximum reinforcement. However, the alignment and assembly of continuous 2D components at high volume fraction remain challenging. We use a stacking and folding method to generate aligned graphene/polycarbonate composites with as many as 320 parallel layers spanning 0.032 to 0.11 millimeters in thickness that significantly increases the effective elastic modulus and strength at exceptionally low volume fractions of only 0.082%. An analogous transverse shear scrolling method generates Archimedean spiral fibers that demonstrate exotic, telescoping elongation at break of 110%, or 30 times greater than Kevlar. Both composites retain anisotropic electrical conduction along the graphene planar axis and transparency. These composites promise substantial mechanical reinforcement, electrical, and optical properties at highly reduced volume fraction.

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