A new paper made of graphene and protein fibrils
(May 7, 2012) Researchers led by Raffaele Mezzenga, a professor in Food and Soft Materials Science, have created a new nanocomposite made of graphene and protein fibrils: a special paper, which combines the best features of both components.
The circular sheets that Raffaele Mezzenga gently lifts from a petri dish are shiny and black. Looking at this tiny piece of paper, one could hardly imagine that it consists of a novel nanocomposite material, with some unprecedented and unique properties, developed in the laboratory of the ETH professor.
This new "paper" is made of alternating layers of protein and graphene. The two components can be mixed in varying compositions, brought into solution, and dried into thin sheets through a vacuum filter - "similarly as one usually does in the manufacture of normal paper from cellulose" says Mezzenga. "This combination of different materials with uncommon properties produces a novel nanocomposite with some major benefits," says the ETH professor. For example, the material is entirely biodegradable.