Graphene reflux: improving the yield of liquid-exfoliated nanosheets through repeated separation techniques
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Scalable production of graphene through liquid-phase exfoliation has been plagued by low yields. Although several recent studies have attempted to improve graphene exfoliation technology, the problem of separating colloidal nanosheets from unexfoliated parent material has received far less attention. Here we demonstrate a scalable method for improving nanosheet yield through a facile washing process. By probing the sedimentation of liquid-phase exfoliated slurries of graphene nanosheets and parent material, we found that a portion of exfoliated graphene is entrapped in the sediment, but can be recovered by repeatedly washing the slurry of nanosheet and parent material with additional solvent. We found this process to significantly increase the overall yield of graphene (graphene/parent material) and recover a roughly constant proportion of graphene with each wash. The cumulative amount of graphene recovered is only a function of total solvent volume. Moreover, we found this technique to be applicable to other types of nanosheets such as boron nitride nanosheets.
author list (cited authors)
Rountree, K. S., Shah, S. A., Sweeney, C. B., Irin, F., & Green, M. J.