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The team of researchers at Rice University figured out a unique way to use electrical pulses to upcycle food waste, plastic, and even coal. For example, the scientists transformed coffee grounds transformed into pristine single-layer sheets of graphene.
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Essentially, we’re trapping greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane that waste food would have emitted in landfills.

Graphene from Solid Carbon Sources

it was known that graphene could be made from physical separation of individual layers by painstakingly pealing graphene away from graphite using adhesive tape. An easier approach was the chemical vapor phase deposition (CVD) of solid graphene from a gaseous carbon source on a metal catalyst such as copper. I discovered that solid carbon sources such as common polymers, organic chemicals and even food, insects and wastes could be used to produce graphene when heated on copper. Additionally, the heating of functionalized carbon nanotubes on a metal catalyst surface produced graphene by decomposition of the functional addends to form a composite that was reinforced by carbon nanotubes (rebar graphene). We recently discovered that porous graphene films could be synthesized by exposing commercially available polyimide to laser radiation. This has led to many follow-on developments that will be published. I led the synthesis research with high resolution imaging by Prof. Miguel Yacaman, from the University of Texas at San Antonio and some collaboration with the late Rice University Senior Faculty Fellow Robert Hauge.

Papers

a. Sun, Z.; Yan, Z.; Yao, J.; Beitler, E.; Zhu, Y.; Tour, J. M. Growth of Graphene from Solid Carbon Sources. Nature 2010, 468, 549-552.
b. Ruan, G.; Sun, Z.; Peng, Z.; Tour, J. M. Growth of Graphene from Food, Insects, and Waste. ACS Nano 2011, 5, 7601-7607.
c. Yan, Z.; Peng, Z.; Casillas, G.; Lin, J.; Xiang, C.; Zhou, H.; Yang, Y.; Ruan, G.; Raji, A.-R. O.; Samuel, E. L. G.; Hauge, R. H.; Yacaman, M. J.; Tour, J. M. Rebar Graphene. ACS Nano, 2014, 8, 5061-5068.
d. Lin, J.; Peng, Z.; Liu, Y.; Ruiz-Zepeda, F.; Ye, R.; Samuel, E. L. G.; Yacaman, M. J.; Yakobson, B. I.; Tour, J. M. Laser-Induced Porous Graphene Films from Commercial Polymers. Nature Comm. 2014, 5:5714.

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