The carbon material graphene has no well-defined thickness; it merely consists of one single layer of atoms. It is therefore often referred to as a "two-dimensional material." Trying to make a three-dimensional structure out of it may sound contradictory at first, but it is an important goal: if the properties of the graphene layer are to be exploited best, then as much active surface area as possible must be integrated within a limited volume.
The best way to achieve this goal is to produce graphene on complex branched nanostructures. This is exactly what a cooperation between CNR Nano in Pisa, TU Wien (Vienna) and the University of Antwerp has now achieved. This could help, for example, to increase the storage capability per volume for hydrogen or to build chemical sensors with higher sensitivity.
In Prof. Ulrich Schmid's group (Institute for Sensor and Actuator Systems, TU Wien), research has been conducted for years on how to transform solid materials such as silicon carbide into extremely fine, porous structures in a precisely controlled way. "If you can control the porosity, then many different material properties can be influenced as a result," explains Georg Pfusterschmied, one of the authors of the current paper.
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