2D materials shroud liquid droplets to exploit electronic properties

Physicists at Sussex University have developed a method of wrapping 2D materials around liquid droplets to exploit their electronic properties, an advance with potential applications in printed electronics and healthcare wearables.

2D materials
Graphene-wrapped emulsion droplets deposited on electrodes in front of a single-drop thin film electronic device (Image: Sussex University Materials Physics group)

The scientists built on their previous work to wrap emulsion droplets with graphene and other 2D materials by reducing the coatings to atomically thin nanosheet layers. By doing so, they were able to create electrically conductive liquid emulsions that are the lowest-loading graphene networks ever reported at 0.001 vol%.

According to Sussex University, this means that subsequent liquid electronic technology — voltage sensors to monitor physical performance and health, electronic devices printed from emulsion droplets, and even potentially more efficient and durable batteries for electric vehicles — will be cheaper and more durable because they will use less graphene. or need other 2D nanosheets covering the droplets.


Significantly, the scientists can now create these electronic droplet networks with all liquids (earlier research focused on oils and water), as they have figured out how to determine which liquid droplets are wrapped in graphene, so that emulsions can be specifically designed for the desired application. . The team’s findings were published in ACS Nano

In a statement, Dr. Sean Ogilvie, research fellow in materials physics at Sussex University School of Mathematical and Physical Science and lead author of the paper: “The potential of 2D materials, such as graphene, lies in their electronic properties and their processability; we have developed a process to surface of our nanosheet dispersions to stabilize emulsion droplets with ultra-thin coatings.

“The tunability of these emulsions allows us to wrap 2D materials around liquid droplets to exploit their electronic properties. This includes emulsion inks, in which we have found that droplets can be deposited without the coffee ring effect associated with printing conventional functional inks. potentially enabling single-droplet films for printed transistors and other electronic devices.

“Another exciting development for our research group is that we can now also design and control our emulsions for specific applications, such as packaging soft polymers such as silicone for wearable voltage sensors that show increased sensitivity at low graphene loading, and we are also investigating battery emulsion assembly.” electrode materials to improve the robustness of these energy storage devices.”

Abhishek Maheswari
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