Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

One box of Girl Scout Cookies worth $15 billion: Lab shows troop how any carbon source can become valuable graphene

Date:
August 4, 2011
Source:
Rice University
Summary:
Scientists can make graphene out of just about anything with carbon -- even Girl Scout Cookies. Graduate students in the Rice University lab of chemist James Tour proved it when they invited a troop of Houston Girl Scouts to their lab to show them how it's done.

Rice University researchers and members of Girl Scouts of America Troop 25080 confirm the conductivity of graphene made from shortbread Girl Scout Cookies.
Credit: Rice University

Scientists can make graphene out of just about anything with carbon -- even Girl Scout Cookies.

Graduate students in the Rice University lab of chemist James Tour proved it when they invited a troop of Houston Girl Scouts to their lab to show them how it's done.

The work is part of a paper published online by ACS Nano. Rice scientists described how graphene -- a single-atom-thick sheet of the same material in pencil lead -- can be made from just about any carbon source, including food, insects and waste.

The cookie gambit started on a dare when Tour mentioned at a meeting that his lab had produced graphene from table sugar.

"I said we could grow it from any carbon source -- for example, a Girl Scout cookie, because Girl Scout Cookies were being served at the time," Tour recalled. "So one of the people in the room said, 'Yes, please do it. ... Let's see that happen.'"

Members of Girl Scouts of the United States of America Troop 25080 came to Rice's Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology to see the process. Rice graduate students Gedeng Ruan, lead author of the paper, and Zhengzong Sun calculated that at the then-commercial rate for pristine graphene -- $250 for a two-inch square -- a box of traditional Girl Scout shortbread cookies could turn a $15 billion profit.

"That's a lot of cash!" said an amazed Sydney Shanahan, a member of the troop.

A sheet of graphene made from one box of shortbread cookies would cover nearly three football fields, Sun said.

The experiment was a whimsical way to make a serious point: that graphene -- touted as a miracle material for its toughness and conductivity since its discovery by Nobel Prize-winning scientists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov in 2004 -- can be drawn from many sources.

To demonstrate, the researchers subsequently tested a range of materials, as reported in the new paper, including chocolate, grass, polystyrene plastic, insects (a cockroach leg) and even dog feces (compliments of lab manager Dustin James' miniature dachshund, Sid Vicious).

In every case, the researchers were able to make high-quality graphene via carbon deposition on copper foil. In this process, the graphene forms on the opposite side of the foil as solid carbon sources decompose; the other residues are left on the original side. Typically, this happens in about 15 minutes in a furnace flowing with argon and hydrogen gas and turned up to 1,050 degrees Celsius.

Tour expects the cost of graphene to drop quickly as commercial interests develop methods to manufacture it in bulk. Another new paper by Tour and his Rice colleagues described a long-sought way to make graphene-based transparent electrodes by combining graphene with a fine aluminum mesh. The material may replace expensive indium tin oxide as a basic element in flat-panel and touch-screen displays, solar cells and LED lighting.

The experiment the Girl Scouts witnessed "has a lot to do with current research topics in academia and in industry," said Tour, Rice's T.T. and W.F. Chao Chair in Chemistry as well as a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and of computer science. "They learned that carbon -- or any element -- in one form can be inexpensive and in another form can be very expensive."

Diamonds are a good example, he said. "You could probably get a very large diamond out of a box of Girl Scout Cookies."

Zhiwei Peng a graduate student in Tour's group, is a co-author of the paper.

Sandia National Laboratory, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the Office of Naval Research MURI program funded the research.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rice University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gedeng Ruan, Zhengzong Sun, Zhiwei Peng, James M. Tour. Growth of Graphene from Food, Insects and Waste. ACS Nano, 2011; 110729113834087 DOI: 10.1021/nn202625c

Cite This Page:

Rice University. "One box of Girl Scout Cookies worth $15 billion: Lab shows troop how any carbon source can become valuable graphene." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 August 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110804105903.htm>.
Rice University. (2011, August 4). One box of Girl Scout Cookies worth $15 billion: Lab shows troop how any carbon source can become valuable graphene. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110804105903.htm
Rice University. "One box of Girl Scout Cookies worth $15 billion: Lab shows troop how any carbon source can become valuable graphene." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/08/110804105903.htm (accessed April 19, 2014).

Share This



More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

Small Reactors Could Be Future of Nuclear Energy

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the industry fell under intense scrutiny. Now, small underground nuclear power plants are being considered as the possible future of the nuclear energy. (April 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show

AP (Apr. 17, 2014) An electric car that proponents hope will replace horse-drawn carriages in New York City has also been revealed at the auto show. (Apr. 17) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

Honda's New ASIMO Robot, More Human-Like Than Ever

AFP (Apr. 17, 2014) It walks and runs, even up and down stairs. It can open a bottle and serve a drink, and politely tries to shake hands with a stranger. Meet the latest ASIMO, Honda's humanoid robot. Duration: 00:54 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

German Researchers Crack Samsung's Fingerprint Scanner

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) German researchers have used a fake fingerprint made from glue to bypass the fingerprint security system on Samsung's new Galaxy S5 smartphone. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins