Technology Review reports:
by KATHERINE BOURZAC
To chemists, carbon is just carbon. But graphene, the ultrathin material whose strength, flexibility, and high conductivity is promising for electronics, is one of the more costly forms of the element. High quality graphene is commonly made by growing it from expensive, pure carbon-containing gases inside a reaction chamber. In a paper published online in the journal ACS Nano, chemists at Rice University describe using dirty, cheap sources of carbon instead, including insects, plastic, and dog excrement. They even invited a troop of Girl Scouts into the lab to make some graphene from cookies, as seen in the video below:
(HT Maia Weinstock)
NOTE: Andre Geim, co-winner of the 2000 Ig Nobel Prize in physics (for using magnets to levitate a frog) was awarded (together with a colleague) the 2010 Nobel Prize in physics for his discoveries about graphene — including his discovery of the first reliable method for producing usable amounts of graphene. Geim used a pencil (the source of the graphene) and Scotch Tape.