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Transforming Dog Feces, Girl Scout Cookies, & Cockroaches into Graphene, 2011
Graphene is a form of carbon consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms packed in a honeycomb lattice. Since first being described in 1987, the material has generated excitement because of its wide range of potential applications in products such as solar cells, transistors, gas detectors, integrated circuits, and ultracapacitors. A drawback has been that producing graphene is extremely costly.

However, in 2011 researchers in the Rice University lab of James Tour demonstrated it was possible to grow graphene relatively inexpensively from a variety of cheap carbon sources. Their process involved placing a carbon-based substance on a thin piece of copper foil in a furnace at a temperature of 1050 degrees celsius and baking it for 15 minutes. The graphene formed on the bottom side of the foil. They demonstrated their process by creating graphene from chocolate, grass, plastic, girl-scout cookies, cockroaches, and dog feces.

A cockroach leg about to be transformed into graphene

According to Science Daily:
The cookie gambit started on a dare when Tour mentioned at a meeting that his lab had produced graphene from table sugar.
"I said we could grow it from any carbon source -- for example, a Girl Scout cookie, because Girl Scout Cookies were being served at the time," Tour recalled. "So one of the people in the room said, 'Yes, please do it. ... Let's see that happen.'"

The Girl Scout cookies were provided by a local Troop from Houston, Texas. They were shortbread flavor. The dog feces were provided by a miniature dachsund belonging to the lab manager, Dustin James.

Tour noted that he expected the cost of graphene to drop sharply in the future.

Though Tour didn't mention this, presumably his process could be used to create graphene not only from girl scout cookies, but also from girl scouts.
Posted By: alex | Date: Sat Aug 06, 2011
Category: Chemistry, 2000s, United States,
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