[James Tour] and others at Rice University announced an improved form of graphene that uses nanoscale rivets. The material incorporates carbon nanotubes along with carbon spheres that encase iron nanoparticles. The nanotubes provide strength and higher conductivity overall, while the spheres let the material transfer more easily.
Typically, placing graphene on something involves using chemical vapor deposition on a polymer layer before transferring to another site. The polymer tends to degrade the graphene’s properties. This new material doesn’t require this intermediate step. In addition, the spheres allow interfacing to the graphene more readily.
The new material is almost as transparent as graphene and retains its strength and electrical properties, even when flexed. Researchers hope this new material will speed adoption of graphene in production devices. The production of the material takes places in a chemical vapor deposition oven.
Making ordinary graphene is within reach of the average hacker. There’s even a method using a DVD burner. There’s probably plenty of graphene discoveries waiting for someone to find them. Even the original discovery of graphene didn’t involve much fancy equipment (see the video below).