Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Gram-scale production of graphene based on solvothermal synthesis and sonication


Carbon nanostructures have emerged as likely candidates for a wide range of applications, driving research into novel synthetic techniques to produce nanotubes, graphene and other carbon-based materials. Single sheets of pristine graphene have been isolated from bulk graphite in small amounts by micromechanical cleavage1, and larger amounts of chemically modified graphene sheets have been produced by a number of approaches2,3,4,5,6,7. Both of these techniques make use of highly oriented pyrolitic graphite as a starting material and involve labour-intensive preparations. Here, we report the direct chemical synthesis of carbon nanosheets in gram-scale quantities in a bottom-up approach based on the common laboratory reagents ethanol and sodium, which are reacted to give an intermediate solid that is then pyrolized, yielding a fused array of graphene sheets that are dispersed by mild sonication. The ability to produce bulk graphene samples from non-graphitic precursors with a scalable, low-cost approach should take us a step closer to real-world applications of graphene.

This is a preview of subscription content

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Example of the bulk quantity of graphene product.
Figure 2: TEM images of the agglomerated graphene sheets.
Figure 3: SEM image of the as-synthesized graphene structures.
Figure 4: AFM image of graphene in tapping mode.
Figure 5: SAED pattern of graphene at 300 keV.


  1. 1

    Novoselov, K. S. et al. Electric field effect in atomically thin carbon films. Science 306, 666–669 (2004).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Li, X. et al. Highly conducting graphene sheets and Langmuir–Blodgett films. Nature Nanotech. 3, 538–542 (2008).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Hernandez, Y. et al. High-yield production of graphene by liquid-phase exfoliation of graphite. Nature Nanotech. 3, 563–568 (2008).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Li, X., Wang, X., Zhang, L., Lee, S. & Dai, H. Chemically derived, ultrasmooth graphene nanoribbon semiconductors. Science 319, 1229–1232 (2008).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Stankovich, S. et al. Synthesis of graphene-based nanosheets via chemical reduction of exfoliated graphite oxide. Carbon 45, 1558–1565 (2007).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Stankovich, S. et al. Graphene-based composite materials. Nature 442, 282–286 (2006).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Li, D., Müller, M. B., Gilje, S., Kaner, R. B. & Wallace, G. G. Processable aqueous dispersions of graphene nanosheets. Nature Nanotech. 3, 101–105 (2008).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Landau, L. D. Zur theorie der phasenumwandlungen II. Phys. Z. Sowjetunion 11, 26–35 (1937).

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    Meyer, J. C. et al. The structure of suspended graphene sheets. Nature 446, 60–63 (2007).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Dikin, D. A. et al. Preparation and characterization of graphene oxide paper. Nature 448, 457–460 (2007).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Krishnan, A. et al. Graphitic cones and the nucleation of curved carbon surfaces. Nature 388, 451–454 (1997).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    Land, T. A., Michely, T., Behm, R. J., Hemminger, J. C. & Comsa, G. STM investigation of single layer graphite structures produced on Pt(111) by hydrocarbon decomposition. Surf. Sci. 264, 261–270 (1992).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  13. 13

    Nagashima, A., Nuka, K., Itoh, H., Ichinokawa, T. & Oshima, C. Electronic states of monolayer graphite formed on TiC(111) surface. Surf. Sci. 291, 93–98 (1993).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  14. 14

    Malesevic, A. et al. Synthesis of few-layer graphene via microwave plasma-enhanced chemical vapour deposition. Nanotechnology 19, 305604 (2008).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Dato, A., Radmilovic, V., Lee, Z., Phillips, J. & Frenklach, M. Substrate-free gas-phase synthesis of graphene sheets. Nano Lett. 8, 2012–2016 (2008).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Forbeaux, I., Themlin, J. M. & Debever, J. M. Heteroepitaxial graphite on 6H-SiC(0001): Interface formation through conduction-band electronic structure. Phys. Rev. B 58, 16396–16406 (1998).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    van Bommel, A. J., Crombeen, J. E. & van Tooren, A. LEED and Auger electron observations of the SiC(0001) surface. Surf. Sci. 48, 463–472 (1975).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Kuang, Q. et al. Low temperature solvothermal synthesis of crumpled carbon nanosheets. Carbon 42, 1737–1741 (2004).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Shen, J.-M. & Feng, Y.-T. Formation of flower-like carbon nanosheet aggregations and their electrochemical application. J. Phys. Chem. C 112, 13114–13120 (2008).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  20. 20

    Kawakami, M., Karato, T., Takenaka, T. & Yokoyama, S. Structure analysis of coke, wood charcoal and bamboo charcoal by Raman spectroscopy and their reaction rate with CO2 . ISIJ Int. 45, 1027–1034 (2005).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Coutinho, A. R., Rocha, J. D. & Luengo, C. A. Preparing and characterizing biocarbon electrodes. Fuel Process. Technol. 67, 93–102 (2000).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Deprez, N. & McLachlan, D. S. The analysis of the electrical conductivity of graphite powders during compaction. J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. 21, 101–107 (1988).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23

    Gregg, S. J. & Sing, K. S. W. Adsorption, Surface Area and Porosity (Academic Press, 1982).

    Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Boehm, H. P., Clauss, A., Fisher, G. O. & Hofmann, U. Das adsorptionsverhalten sehr dünner kohlenstoff-folien. Z. Anorg. Allg. Chem. 316, 119–127 (1962).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

Download references


This research was supported by the University of New South Wales (UNSW), the Faculty Research Grant Program (FRGP), Goldstar grants and an Australian Postgraduate Award (APA) to M.C. AFM measurements were carried out courtesy of P.T. at the University of Sydney.

Author information




J.A.S. and M.C. conceived and designed the experiments and developed the interpretation of results. M.C. synthesized all samples. P.T. assisted in the measurement and interpretation of the AFM data. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to John A. Stride.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Information (PDF 6008 kb)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Choucair, M., Thordarson, P. & Stride, J. Gram-scale production of graphene based on solvothermal synthesis and sonication. Nature Nanotech 4, 30–33 (2009).

Download citation

Further reading


Quick links

Find nanotechnology articles, nanomaterial data and patents all in one place. Visit Nano by Nature Research