Graphene is a form of carbon that is made up of carbon atoms which form a single layer of aromatic rings (see Figure 1).[i] Other types of carbon include graphite, coal, carbon nanotubes, fullerenes, and diamond.
It has been a widely held belief that graphene is hydrophobic because graphite is hydrophobic.
This belief was challenged when researchers at the National Physics Laboratory in UK found that the hydrophobic nature of the material is highly thickness dependent, with monolayer graphene being hydrophilic.[ii] Materials scientist in the Netherlands furthered this study by measuring the contact angle of water on the graphene and several other materials. They found that with water the graphene surface was smooth and clean meaning the graphene material was indeed hydrophilic.[iii] This finding will have major impacts on the use of graphene in water-based applications. It is worth mentioning that graphene oxide is more commonly used in water dispersions.
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[ii] Martin Munz, Cristina E. Giusca, Rachael L. Myers-Ward, D. Kurt Gaskill, and Olga Kazakova ACS Nano 2015 9 (8), 8401-8411 DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.5b03220
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