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Science Technology

MIT Working On Industrial-Scale Graphene Printing Press 60

surewouldoutlaw writes "Hot on the heels of news that research into graphene is being funded by the NSF, MIT says it is working on an industrial-size graphene printing press for synthesizing sheets as large as 1-km square. The current record is 76 cm sq. Tomas Palacios, director of the Center for Graphene Devices and Systems, said, 'The way I approach graphene is different from most other researchers in this field. Ninety-nine percent of the papers on graphene have been written by physicists, focusing on amazing and unique properties of the material. I have the point of view of an engineer. I’m interested in finding the best applications for graphene’s unique properties.'"
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MIT Working On Industrial-Scale Graphene Printing Press

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    One square kilometer as in 1000 m * 1000 m --- How do they even have room for the process?

    Guess I'll have to RTFA to figure our what they really mean. Probably something about stitching them together.

    • Bistromath.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I suspect he means one square kilometer, not one kilometer square. I know paper is generally made in very large rolls, and I would expect the engineer to try to replicate that method with the new material.
    • Re:1km^2 (Score:4, Insightful)

      by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara.hudson@[ ... m ['bar' in gap]> on Friday September 23, 2011 @03:32PM (#37495372) Journal
      ... because they pulled the number out of their you-know-what? The article makes the claim, but the article that it links to ( as its' source) doesn't make any such claims.

      They want to produce rolls of the stuff. Sure, 1 square kilometer of material could be 1km * 1km, or 10km * 100m, or 100km * 10m, but it's more likely to be a strip 1,000km * 1m, or 10,000km * 10cm than 1km * 1km ...

      • Either way it's large graphene sheet.
      • I'd prefer it more around the 0.027m range. That way the long end is 37000km.
        And if they just do a little finishing work and roll it over, it's now a single-wall carbon nano-tube and it can reach geosynchronous orbit and we've got ourselves a space elevator.
        • by tmosley ( 996283 )
          Why is everyone fixated on using nanotubes for space elevators? You do know that bulk graphene is stronger, right?

          I try to hammer this into everyone's head every time there is a space elevator thread, but they all keep yapping about nanotubes. It's a conundrum.
          • Well nanotubes are a little older and graphene is a little newer, so we're preaching what we know. Furthermore, nanotubes have had experimental tests proving their tensile strength while graphene's properties are still... theoretical...
    • by Artraze ( 600366 )

      It's also 1m x 1,000,000 m, i.e. a giant roll.

      While I initially thought the same as you, I have to image this is what they're after as a square strikes me as not only impractical but also rather useless.

      • by blair1q ( 305137 )


        Graphene is significantly less than a nanometer thick. A million layers of that is still only a millimeter.

        This "giant roll" could have the diameter of a roll of toilet paper. If the cardboard tube is a decimeter across.

        • Depends on how tightly you can roll it without disrupting it.

          Tearing is not supposed to be a problem? Stretching?

          Well, sticking will be a problem.

          You have to have some space between layers or the layers will stick together, whether bonding together or simple exerting static cling that makes it hard to unroll. And even problems with air pressure, if the roll is wider than 10-20 cm.

          It's not quite going to be like spidey's web stuff.

      • What they are talking about is a continues manufacturing process. It just means that they can get a good production run. I am sure they will cut down the 1km^2 into something more reasonable.

        It’s the same for LCD screens. They come off these huge glass sheets. The cut out the defective parts and then figure out what to turn into to. (A couple large TVs, many small TVs, or lots of phone screens.)

    • by spatley ( 191233 )
      Ugh, the level to which this has been mis-quoted shows a lack of understanding by the TPM authors bordering on idiocy.

      The previously made sheet of graphene was cited to be 76 centimeters square. but the original article [] notes that the sheet was 76 Centimeters on the diagonal which would be 54 centimeters on a side if it was a perfect square: 2916 square centimeters.

      So if we were to use their own retarded logic system, the claim of attemptin
      • Computer screens are always measured by their diagonal, so it's not as retarded as you seem to think (even if the terminology they used was horribly wrong).

        I scanned TFA to try to find out what was meant by "1-km square" and failed, though, so you do get credit for finding that.

    • >> One square kilometer

      That's just a back-of-a-cocktail-bedsheet calculation.

    • Well, they can probably bind the edges of two graphene sheets together literally seamlessly. So you make a bunch of 1km long rolls that are a metre wide. Now make a machine that can take two rolls, unspool them, bind the edges together, and wind them on a third spool - like the graphene equivalent of two ply bathroom tissue. So now you have a 100km roll of 2m wide graphene that's folded lengthwise. Do that with all of your single ply rolls (you'll have 1000 of them). Now feed two of the double ply rolls
  • by Anonymous Coward

    3M doesn't make Scotch Tape (TM) that big.

    • They do. They make scotch tape on a continues machine. It just keep coming and coming – then it’s rolled onto the tub, sliced (but only because they want it to be manageable – they could keep on going) and cut (one industrial roll equals scores of scores of retail rolls.)

      • by ae1294 ( 1547521 )

        They do. They make scotch tape on a continues machine. It just keep coming and coming – then it’s rolled onto the tub, sliced (but only because they want it to be manageable – they could keep on going) and cut (one industrial roll equals scores of scores of retail rolls.)

        That's what she said... before her untimely death...

      • by Thud457 ( 234763 )
        excuse my French sir, but bullshit!

        I don't even need a multi-million-dollar government grant to determine that the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing corporation would have a hard time producing further Scotch brand tape once the roll had undergone gravitational collapse.
        • by blair1q ( 305137 )

          I agree with your "bullshit" call, but not your excuse.

          I bet they start with giant rolls of plastic film, then paint on the adhesive as they roll it onto small, long rolls of a few meters of tape each, then chop it off and slice it into various widths and start the next output roll.

          It'd be darned interesting if they just fed resin pellets in one end and took wrapping-tape rolls off the other, but I doubt that's how it goes. Having the offloading and onloading part of the process gives you a chance to deal

  • All the sooner that public bathrooms will be stocked with graphene toilet paper.

    Brings up an interesting question: at 1 atom thick, how long a strip of graphene would a standard toilet paper roll represent?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Abstrackt ( 609015 ) *

      Stocking single ply wasn't enough for them? Now they need to go to single atom? And people wonder why I don't poop in public restrooms....

      • by ae1294 ( 1547521 )

        Stocking single ply wasn't enough for them? Now they need to go to single atom? And people wonder why I don't poop in public restrooms....

        I wonder if the company makes condoms as well?

    • Got the answer (Score:4, Informative)

      by jomama717 ( 779243 ) <> on Friday September 23, 2011 @03:47PM (#37495542) Journal
      Using the wikipedia statement that "a stack of three million sheets would be only one millimeter thick" and a handy online rolled material calculator [] (using 1.5 inch center diameter and 6 inch outer diameter) you get ~32,000 miles!!!
  • by MightyMartian ( 840721 ) on Friday September 23, 2011 @03:15PM (#37495174) Journal

    "Oh, they've printed him in carbonite! That should preserve him, if he can survive the rollers."

  • I can't be positive, but I'd be shocked to find out that NSF has not already awarded many research groups grants to study graphene... so I'm not sure what that link is doing there.

  • If they are indeed intending to make these 1km^2 area sheets as long rolls instead of ridiculous squares, it seems to me that this has interesting implications for a space elevator. At a lenth of 35,000km, an area of 1 km^2 works out to be 2.8cm, which could then be rolled into essentially a giant nano tube. According to Wikipedia, graphene's tensile strength is 130GPa, which is incidentally precisely the estimated material strength required to build a space elevator (again, according to a quick Wiki chec

    • The devil is in the details.

      Getting the graphene sheet to properly seal in such a perfectly uniform way without disrupting the orderliness of the parent sheet in the process would be a pretty fancy trick.

      Developing sheets is fairly easy, as they can be produced using ordinary vapor deposition.

      Rolling up that sheet into uniform and regular tubes is a whole different kettle of fish.

    • My vote is for solar sails, if you can give the sheet some rigidity and reflectivity.

      • Sails have to be rigid? Have you looked at a sailing boat lately?

        Reflectivity would double the thrust over simply absorbing the photons, but any metal coating except maybe lithium or beryllium would more than double the mass, right? So I'll take naked graphene, with some kind of rip-stop reinforcement of course.

  • Everybody wants the sweet jobs.

    But nobody wants to do the work.

    And then they say that's what makes them different from everyone else.

    What this guy is saying is just that he's betting that the tech is finally getting there for some profitable applications. (Nothing new on that bet, really.)

    And that he is terribly impatient with all the physicists who are taking way too long to turn this magic technology into money.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.