Making graphene with a DVD burner

A group of researchers have figured out how to produce graphene using a DVD drive. This discovery helps clear the path for mass production of the substance, which was discovered in the late 1980’s. More recently, the 2010 Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to a team that produced two-dimensional graphene; a substance one just atom thick. One method of doing so used Scotch tape and is mentioned in the video after the break as a technique that works but is not feasible for large-scale production.

The process seen here starts with graphite oxide because it can be suspended in water. This allows a lab technician to evenly distribute the substance on a plastic surface. Note the use of optical discs. The second part of the process involves hitting the dried layer of graphite oxide with a laser. It just so happens that this can be done with a consumer DVD drive. The result is graphene that can be used in circuits and may have potential as a fantastic super-capacitor.

[Thanks Mark]

62 thoughts on “Making graphene with a DVD burner

  1. Is this a repeat? The video is new, but maybe not the story. I saw the video the other day, and when I went searching for the research behind it, I found the paper the video is based on at behind a firewall. I also found it at

    The URL is suggestive that Hack A Day covered this story in March.

    1. This is great. I was wondering if there was a way to take apart the DVD Burner so that you could make flat square/rectangle sheets of graphene with the Laser of the DVD Burner as opposed to Round Discs. of graphene.In the video’s I,ve seen of graphene the discs look floppy. Not hard at all.So does it mean it;s not exactly like steel.I’ve heard it can support the weight of an elephant .So does it stretch a lot.

  2. This is the 5th time in 2 days I saw an article elsewhere first, then immediately saw it on Hackaday. Not to say it was always posted elsewhere first, I guess my timing is just off.

    Anyway, I love the video and idea presented in it. Graphene makes me excited about the future. Of course, we have to be cautious about getting our hopes up for something that’s possibly over-hyped.

  3. Actually I saw this a few month ago but don’t remember where. I think they use Light-Scribe, so the also can make patterns. The info that they use graphit oxide is new to me. Did somebody try this at home?

    1. As near as I can tell, not much. They attach a thin PET substrate to the CD, drop on an aqueous graphite oxide solution, presumably let it dry, put the resulting CD/PET/GO disc into the LightScribe DVD player, and at the end peel off the PET substrate with attached graphene layer. They use GO because it’s water soluble, so I suspect they wash it off, then cut up the PET to separate the graphene parts.

    2. “In order to increase the hydrophilicity of the substrate surface and obtain uniform thin coatings, the lightscrib enabled DVD substrates were pretreated with an oxygen plasma at 35mW for 3 minutes.”

      Next on hackaday, DIY oxygen plasma rig?

      1. Something like this is actually really easy to do. It’s really just a sputtering system operating in reverse polarity with some air in the chamber.

        In case someone is unaware, a DC sputtering system is just a DC power supply (12-24 ish volts), a target, a vacuum pump, vacuum chamber and a vacuum gauge. When the atmosphere in the chamber reaches about 100 mT or so you can apply voltage to your target and start sputtering or etching: which you do depends on what the polarity of the voltage is. If you have oxygen in the chamber atmosphere you will get the hydrophilic effects they mentioned: air works quite well for this.

        In my experience, you can make a lot of different things hydrophilic with this technique. I’ve done it to Teflon, glass, silicon and others. It works on most plastics, and you can easily mask areas to get selective hydrophilic/hydrophobic behavior.

  4. This is an exciting development, but perhaps a little out of the typical hobbyist’s league. I researched the papers when they first came out.

    Graphitic oxide is not generally available and ‘kinda tough to make.

    Reading the papers, IIRC (correct me if I’m wrong – it’s been awhile) they synthesized graphitic oxide and then made a few passes which “seived” out large granules in their product. It took several rounds and several days to get a solution fine enough to use for this process, and they had the equipment and expertise to measure the granularity..

    None of this is impossible, but my take is that it is beyond the reach of a casual hobbyist. One of the Chemist hobbyists on YouTube perhaps, but not something you can just cook up in your kitchen.

    Still, results (positive or negative) from people willing to try this would be interesting.

    (Perhaps someone should start a project site so people can collaborate?)

    1. Bottles of aqueous graphene oxide can be purchased online these days, it’s not as difficult as it used to be to make, at least not for chemical supply companies. It’s still expensive but it is within reach.

      So if the step of making your own GO is skipped, reading over the technical details, it’s possible to make this in a home lab. I read that the material is fairly flexible as to which electrolyte is used, so perhaps it is possible?

      1. Huh. This must be a new company.

        To be fair, there’s no company address listed on the website. It’s got a NYC phone area code, but their fax # is in the Boston area. They’re apparently not an incorporated business, either. There’s no listing in the MA business directory.

        (This could be “Graphene Laboratories”, incorporated in NY. If so, they’re hiding their corporation from the website.)

        Not that this is necessarily a problem, but note that a lot of sketchy companies and scam companies use these methods. For instance, if you send them money and they don’t send a product, you can’t sue them because there’s no address to serve papers to.

        Also, the site states: “By using this website you agree to be bound by the Terms and Conditions.”, but nowhere can I find what these “terms and conditions” are.

        I’m not comfortable making a several-hundred-dollar purchase from such a site.

        1. “but nowhere can I find what these “terms and conditions” are”

          Click `Contact US` at the top
          On the left side, near the bottom, there is a navigation section labeled “About”. Click on “About Graphene Supermarket” gives their company name, mailing address, and phone number.

          The terms and conditions are also there.

  5. So, would you create the graphene on one CD on both sides (using one of those clear CD’s with no top or bottom coating. Then attach electrodes to both sides so the CD acts as the insulator? Or is the graphene supposed to be the insulator in a super cap?

      1. From what I read, the thin plastic substrate is the insulator, and they sandwich the two open face treated graphene oxide sheets with a gel electrolyte compound between them so that the gel keeps the two graphene oxide sheets from making electrical contact.

    1. It seems to me, based on the description, that it would be relatively easy to build a continuous process to do this. I’d almost think it could be done with a modified offset web press to directly print the graphite oxide in the desired patterns and a continuous infrared oven for reducing the graphite oxide to graphene, followed by a die cutter to cut out the electrodes. Put two back to back, with a machine in the middle to add the polymer gel electrolyte and press the two sides together, and you could have a machine which stamps out complete flexible supercapacitor cells very quickly. Stack them in series and parallel to get the storage you need, and you can be good to go.

  6. One of the papers I read told of Chinese researchers conducting the experiment using the flash adapter from a camera.

    They made an opaque stencil pattern, laid it on the deposited graphitic oxide, and >FLASH< instant graphene.

    From the description, anyone could do that step in the process.

    That's what the DVD burner is doing, really. They aren't using the DVD reading laser, they are using the "cover art burning" laser found in LightScribe drives. I would expect that any X-Y table with a relatively low-power laser head could scribe the patterns.

  7. This is amazing! I could do Graphene all day at home instead of budget pornos. This is so win, i hope someone makes Graphenemaker kits asap. Graphene will change the world, and i will do my part to help her be everywhere! RIP old used up matter there is new hot stuff on set!

  8. The big problem is the fact that a capacitor is like a spring, while a battery changes state of a bulk material. This means a battery is slower, but has inherently far more capacity than a capactitor.
    Increasing the voltage, means thicker insulators, so you never approach a battery in charge stored, but as to spee, capacitors will walys be faster.

  9. I want to know what the substrate is and where we can acquire it, once i know that i would just have to check my school’s chemical stock room to see if they have GO powder or liquid. Also what do you think they used for the separator for the two sheet when they made their demo super cap.

    1. According to their paper in Science (available at they made and tested multiple designs.

      The substrate was PET, which they drop-cast a thin layer of GO. For one design, they used an ion porous separator (Celgard 3501) as the separator and an aqueous electrolyte of 1M H3PO4 (phosphoric acid). For another design, they used a polymer gel made from PVA and H3PO4, which acted as both an electrolyte and a separator. The two forms performed similarly, with about 1V maximum voltage, around 0.3 F/cm^3 capacitance at a current density of around 100mA/cm^2.

      They also tried using an organic electrolyte, tetraethylammonium tetrafluoroborate dissolved in acetonitrile, and achieved higher energy densities, as well as a 3V operating range. Another prototype used a “room temperature ionic liquid” (whatever that means), specifically 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium tetrafluoroborate, that had the best performance of all, as well as a 4V operating range.

  10. I know how to use the lightscribe to do this as all the equipment is commercially avaialble. Lightscribe burners have 2 lasers, one for data writing (650nm) and a lightscribe one (788nm) for patterning the discs. However I want to know if it’s possible to hack the Lightscribe software so that I can use the data writing laser instead to make the pattern. Ideally I would want to do this with a lightscribe Blu ray drive so that I can pattern the disc with the the Blu ray wavelength (405nm) instead of the 788nm (ligtscribe laser).

    I know that you can’t purchase Blu ray lightscribe discs but that is not the point here.

    A Blu ray lightscribe burner is in the link below. Obviously it will lightscribe pattern DVDS and CDs although there is no Blu ray data discs. So I want to hack the Blu ray laser to do the job of the lightscribe laser on a DVD lightscribe disc.

    Your help will be appreciated and maybe even a cash prize!

    1. Lightscribe works by using the secondary laser on the top surface of the disk to create the image (label,artwork or whatever) while the main standard laser is used to read from the disk as any normal drive would on the bottom side. Even if you could get the other laser to operate as you desired it would be on the wrong side of the disk and i’m not entirely sure how the drive would function if you where to place the disk in upside down, and even then I doubt changing the laser to a smaller wavelength would have any affect for this purpose.

    2. @Circuit maker I had the same idea too, the problem at the time was Bluray burners were too expen$ive.

      A possible idea would be to add an inline 0.1V drop Schottky diode on the Bluray anode so as not to affect the drive much, then feed your constant current pulses directly into the diode; some drives use protection built into the laser control IC for static control that doesen’t take kindly to reverse current feeding.
      I haven’t tried this approach yet but it should work.
      Disclaimer:- I am NOT responsible for fried drives etc, these diode are OMGWTFBBQ sensitive to static, heat and other stuff ™

  11. Interesting indeed.
    I suspect that the commercial users of this technology will make customised Lightscribe disks with the GO already “printed” a bit like the old peel apart Polaroids of old.

    Making them double sided would be badass ™ as then people could generate a pair of graphene patterned sheets for each expensive disk.

    Someone should make a version of this intended for customisable EL lamps, with the phosphors added dotwise for lower cost.

  12. Pyrolytic graphite is basically the same, and shares most of the properties.
    If you sand down a sheet so it is flat the top surface can then once cleaned be used for all sorts of neat experiments including DIY transistors.
    I’ve documented weak light sensitivity effects as well, in fact my work precedes the “hovering PG sheet being moved by laser” but I never got around to writing up a paper because it appeared that the effect wasn’t easy to duplicate and only worked with one fragment of a sheet.
    Its interesting to note that the graphitic heatsink interface material will also hover above a magnet so that might be a possible source of feedstock.

  13. 1.take normal cd
    2.apply pet solution on cd apply graphite oxide solution on cd
    4 wait for 24 hours till it get dry
    5now play it in dvd player

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