Materials scientists work to find new materials that can be used in our modern devices. One of the most exciting materials is graphene. Graphene is a form of carbon that comes in a sheet one atom thick and has very interesting properties. However, developing it to scale has been a problem due to its fragility.
One of the uses for graphene is water filtration. Since it is so thin, the surface area of a graphene water filter would be much greater than traditional nanofiltration systems. But making reliable sheets of graphene at centimeter scale with the right sized holes and no tears has proven to be a huge challenge.
But now engineers have developed a method that could pave the way for graphene membranes in filters. They’ve developed a working graphene filter the size of a penny using a combination of techniques. One set of techniques is used to repair tears during the manufacturing process and strengthen the material. The second set places water-molecule-sized holes into the membrane. This early test membrane was able to filter out 90% of larger molecules.
More experimentation is necessary before this can become a viable product. The primary market for filters like these are desalinization plants.
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