Scientists have successfully grown high-quality graphene from a tea tree plant known as Melaleuca alternifolia. This plant is commonly used to make oils and medicine. The scientists’ paper has been published in a recent issue of Nano Letters.
“The researchers demonstrated that they could fabricate large-area, nearly defect-free graphene films from tea tree oil in as little as a few seconds to a few minutes, whereas current growth methods usually take several hours. Unlike current methods, the new method also works at relatively low temperatures, does not require catalysts, and does not rely on methane or other nonrenewable, toxic, or explosive precursors,” according to Phys.org.
The team used a technique known as plasma-enhanced chemical vapor deposition to grow graphene. This technique involves feeding the vaporized extract into a heated tube and switching the plasma on the electrodes, thus transforming the vapor into a graphene film.
“This research realizes fabrication of good-quality, few-layer graphene from an environmentally friendly precursor. Overall, large-area graphene fabrication using a fast, environmentally friendly precursor and process at a relatively low fabrication temperature is the major significance of this work,” Prof. Mohan V. Jacob of Cook University, told Phys.org.
The researchers believe graphene films produced from the tea tree extract may have potential use in applications in the near future, such as next-generation memory devices known as memristors. Memristors store memory in their levels of electrical resistance. The team plans to explore other possible applications of the film.
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