Article | Published:

Microfluidics-enabled orientation and microstructure control of macroscopic graphene fibres

Nature Nanotechnologyvolume 14pages168175 (2019) | Download Citation

Abstract

Macroscopic graphene structures such as graphene papers and fibres can be manufactured from individual two-dimensional graphene oxide sheets by a fluidics-enabled assembling process. However, achieving high thermal-mechanical and electrical properties is still challenging due to non-optimized microstructures and morphology. Here, we report graphene structures with tunable graphene sheet alignment and orientation, obtained via microfluidic design, enabling strong size and geometry confinements and control over flow patterns. Thin flat channels can be used to fabricate macroscopic graphene structures with perfectly stacked sheets that exhibit superior thermal and electrical conductivities and improved mechanical strength. We attribute the observed shape and size confinements to the flat distribution of shear stress from the anisotropic microchannel walls and the enhanced shear thinning degree of large graphene oxide sheets in solution. Elongational and step expansion flows are created to produce large-scale graphene tubes and rods with horizontally and perpendicularly aligned graphene sheets by tuning the elongational and extensional shear rates, respectively.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported financially by the US National Science Foundation under the award no. DMR 1742806. Thermal conductivity measurement of the macroscopic graphene structures was supported by the US National Science Foundation under the award CMMI 1463083.

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Affiliations

  1. Department of Mechanical, Aerospace and Nuclear Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, USA

    • Guoqing Xin
    • , Weiguang Zhu
    • , Yanxiang Deng
    • , Jie Cheng
    • , Lucy T. Zhang
    • , Aram J. Chung
    • , Suvranu De
    •  & Jie Lian

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Contributions

G.X. and J.L. designed the research. G.X. and Y.D. designed the microfluidic channels. G.X and W.Z. collected and analysed thermal, mechanical and microstructure data. G.X., Y.D., J.C. and L.T.Z. performed computational fluid dynamics simulations. G.X., A.J.C., S.D. and J.L. co-wrote the paper. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing interests.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jie Lian.

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DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/s41565-018-0330-9