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One of the challenges in the processing of advanced composite materials with 2D reinforcement is their extensive agglomeration in the matrix. 3D architecture of 2D graphene sheets into a Graphene Foam (GrF) assembly has emerged as an effective way to overcome agglomeration. The highly reticulated network of branches and nodes of GrF offers a seamless pathway for photon and electron conduction in the matrix along with improved mechanical properties. 3D GrF nano-filler is often fabricated by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) technique, which demands high energy, slow deposition rate, and restricting production to small scale. This work highlights freeze-drying (FD) technique to produce 3D graphene nanoplatelets (GNP) foam with a similar hierarchical structure to the CVD GrF. The FD technique using water as the main chemical in 3D GNP foam production is an added advantage. The flexibility of the FD in producing GNP foams of various pore size and morphology is elucidated. The simplicity with which one can engineer thermodynamic conditions to tailor the pore shape and morphology is presented here by altering the GNP solid loading and mold geometry. The FD 3D GNP foam is mechanically superior to CVD GrF as it exhibited 1280 times higher elastic modulus. However, thermal diffusivity of the FD GNP foam is almost 0.5 times the thermal diffusivity of the CVD GrF due to the defects in GNP particles and pore architecture. The versatility in GNP foam scalability and compatibility to form foam of other 1D and 2D material systems (e.g., carbon nanotubes, boron nitride nanotubes, and boron nitride nanoplatelets) brings a unique dimensionality to FD as an advanced engineering foam development process.
Thomas, Tony and Agarwal, Arvind, "A facile and scalable approach in the fabrication of tailored 3d graphene foam via freeze drying" (2021). All Faculty. 434.