MAR 10, 2020 6:02 AM PDT

(Stop) Putting Crap into Graphene Research

WRITTEN BY: Daniel Duan

The Czech researchers used guano as their study material (Pixabay)

In a recently published study, a group of Czech researchers from the University of Chemistry and Technology (Prague, Czech Republic) puts together two materials that are unlikely to appear in the same sentence: guano (bird feces) and graphene. Using this rather unorthodoxy pairing, the authors sent out a note of caution to others in the field of material science: stop conducting uninspiring research on graphene for the sake of publishing papers.

Graphene is long considered a wonder material that possesses numerous extraordinary properties. It is tough, and has excellent heat and electron conductivity; it can be levitated in a magnetic field due to its diamagnetic nature; and unlike other allotropes, every single carbon atom in graphene's lattice is available for chemical reaction on either side of the plain.

However, a recent trend in investigating the electrocatalytic property of graphene had the Czech researchers worried. A quick google search can easily turn up over 50 pieces of research literature on the electrocatalytic activity of graphene in 2019 alone. 

In many of these studies, graphene is doped with chemicals that contain elements such as nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, and boron. (Here doping means the deliberate introduction of impurities into a semiconductor to modify its properties.) Many groups have claimed that their unique doping strategy or materials can enhance the electrocatalytic effect of graphene. It seems that it doesn't matter what kind of materials people use, even if one were to place feces on top of graphene, they could always observe an improved effect of electrocatalysis.

Therefore, the Czech group came up with an idea to challenge this line of thinking. Their parody-styled experiments showed the exact results as they anticipated: the bird dropping-doped graphenes demonstrated better electrocatalytic than the non-doped counterpart in chemical reactions such as oxygen reduction and hydrogen evolution.

In this end, the authors of this satirical research article don't wish others to follow suit or to consider guano as a miracle addictive to material research. Their point is that graphene researchers should stop this current obsession of electrocatalytic quality of graphene. Instead they should spend their money and efforts on meaning investigations.

Source: ACS Nano

About the Author
  • Graduated with a bachelor degree in Pharmaceutical Science and a master degree in neuropharmacology, Daniel is a radiopharmaceutical and radiobiology expert based in Ottawa, Canada. With years of experience in biomedical R&D, Daniel is very into writing. He is constantly fascinated by what's happening in the world of science. He hopes to capture the public's interest and promote scientific literacy with his trending news articles. The recurring topics in his Chemistry & Physics trending news section include alternative energy, material science, theoretical physics, medical imaging, and green chemistry.
You May Also Like
MAR 24, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
MAR 24, 2020
A stretchy supercapacitor is right around the corner
New research published just days ago in Matter, a journal from Cell Press¸ outlines the production of a new kind o ...
MAR 30, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 30, 2020
If Gravity Has Mass, This Could Explain Dark Energy
The Big Bang purportedly transpired 13.8 billion years ago, and even so, the universe continues to expand even today. Bu ...
APR 08, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
APR 08, 2020
The Future of Battery in a Rear View Mirror
Currently electrochemical batteries is the front and center of energy storage, but their production often put a gre ...
MAY 01, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
MAY 01, 2020
John Conway: the Late Maths Legend and His Game of Life
If maths is the only universal language, then John Horton Conway is among the few who can speak it perfectly. Unfortunat ...
MAY 12, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
MAY 12, 2020
Improvised Face Covering: Finding Alternatives to Standard Masks During a Pandemic
On April 3rd, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that they recommend members of the general pub ...
MAY 11, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
MAY 11, 2020
New development in soft robotics
Soft material robotics are often more resilient and adaptable than conventional robotics, but there is one shortcoming - ...
Loading Comments...