A simple and effective way of capturing graphenes and the toxins and contaminants they attract from water by using light has been found by Monash University researchers. The findings, published in the Royal Society of Chemistry journal Nanoscale, could have important ramifications for large-scale water purification.
A modest quantity of a special light-sensitive soap was added to the water containing the graphenes and contaminants. The soap changes its molecular structure when light of a particular color is shone onto it.
This changes the way it interacts with carbon materials in the graphene and causes them to separate out (along with contaminants stuck to them), enabling easier extraction of the graphenes and contaminants. Shining a different coloured light re-disperses the graphenes for re-use.
Monash researcher Dr Rico Tabor explained the diverse technological opportunities offered by graphene owing to its unique structure and properties.
“However, this raises the problem of how to extract the graphenes and contaminants from water. Traditional approaches use high amounts of energy by centrifugation, or adding large amounts of polymer at high cost,” Dr Tabor said.
Co-researcher Thomas McCoy explained the significance of these latest research findings and the benefits of using light to capture graphenes.