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Innovation

Aerogel is a synthetic, porous, ultralight material formed by replacing the liquid component of a gel with a gas. Graphene aerogel, one of the least-dense solids in existence, is ideal for energy storage applications because of its high surface area, strength, and excellent mechanical properties, including high thermal and electric conductivity. Previous efforts to produce bulk graphene aerogels yielded only 2D sheets or basic structures with largely random pore structures, thwarting efforts to optimize the material’s useful properties. Researchers have now successfully used an AM technique (direct ink writing) to create microlattices and other intricate structures for making graphene-based aerogels, opening a range of potential applications for this unique material.1,2,3

Technology Advancement

Researchers combined an aqueous graphene oxide (GO) suspension and silica filler to form a highly viscous ink, which can be extruded through a micronozzle to print a 3D structure.1 After using ultrasound to break the GO hydrogel, researchers then added light-sensitive polymers and applied projection micro-stereolithography to create the desired solid 3D structures. The 3D structures were then heated to burn off the polymers and fuse the layers together. The resulting graphene aerogel structures were an order of magnitude finer resolution than ever before achieved (10 μm versus 100 μm).3 

Impact

The ability to create graphene aerogels with tailored 3D macro-architectures paves the way to optimize key properties of graphene. Graphene aerogels are promising for applications in the automotive, aerospace, energy storage, chemicals, and nanoelectronics industries. Graphene aerogel microlattices could also find uses as thermal insulators, shock absorbers, battery electrodes, pressure sensors, and catalyst supports.1,3,4

Files

1
https://www.llnl.gov/news/3d-printed-aerogels-improve-energy-storage
2
https://www.graphene-info.com/graphene-aerogel
3
https://vtnews.vt.edu/articles/2018/08/engineering-3dprinted-graphene.html
4
https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms7962
5
https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2018/mh/c8mh00668g
Image of graphene aerogel microlattice produced by a 3D printing technique known as direct ink writing. Image LLNL.

3D Direct Ink Writing with Graphene Aerogels

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory |
Virginia Polytechnic University (Blacksburg VA)
Publication Date
Apr 1, 2019
Agreement Type