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MSE Colloquium: James Tour

James M. Tour
October 18, 2019 - 3:00pm
McCullough 115

Graphene synthesis and applications

James M. Tour

T. T. and W. F. Chao Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Computer Science, and Professor of Materials Science and NanoEngineering, Rice University


Described will be new routes to graphene.  This will include laser-induced graphene (LIG) where a host of materials can be lased in the air with a standard laser cutter as found in most machine shops.  This affords a conductive graphene foam from plastics, wood, paper, cotton, potatoes and food by converting the carbon in those materials into graphene.  These lased patterns have been used in numerous devices including batteries, supercapacitors, triboelectric nanogenerators and sensors.  Secondly, a new bottom-up synthesis to multi-gram scales, en route to ton scales, of turbostratic graphene has been achieved using any carbon source, including coal, petroleum coke, biochar, carbon black, discarded food, rubber tires and mixed plastic waste.  The conversion is done with no lasers, no solvent and in the open atmosphere, and it is complete in less than one second.  Since turbostratic rather than AB-stacked (Bernal) graphene is formed, there is little order between the graphene layers, thereby facilitating its rapid exfoliation upon mixing during composite formation. This process is particularly attractive since mixed plastic waste (such as plastic bottles) can be converted into a single component graphene while discarded food waste can become fixed carbon as graphene rather than carbon dioxide and methane in landfills. This renders graphene suitable for use in bulk composites of plastics, metals, plywood, concrete and other building materials, while becoming a harbinger for largescale carbon fixation through graphene production. If this process can be scaled up, massive carbon fixation is foreseeable while providing reuse carbon for bulk construction composite materials that are enhanced by graphene. This will be further described in the context of a non-combustion program to use natural gas for energy while affording no CO2 emissions in the process.


James M. Tour is a synthetic organic chemist and materials scientist. He received his Ph.D. in synthetic organic and organometallic chemistry from Purdue University, and postdoctoral training in synthetic organic chemistry at the University of Wisconsin and then Stanford University. He is presently the T. T. and W. F. Chao Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Computer Science, and Professor of Materials Science and NanoEngineering at Rice University. His research areas spread across materials chemistry, electronics and medicine.  Professor Tour has over 680 research publications and over 130 patent families, with an h-index = 141 and i10 index = 634 with total citations of 95,000 (Google Scholar). He was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors in 2015. Tour was named among “The 50 Most Influential Scientists in the World Today” by in 2014 and listed in “The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds” by Thomson Reuters in 2014.

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