Naturally Graphite Supplies Samples for Study

Graphite on Tape
K-12 students prepare graphene using graphite and scotch tape.

Naturally GraphiteTM is a local business that started as a project of Nanotech Innovations Enterprise, a former Enterprise program at Michigan Tech operated by undergraduate students. The business, advised by Professor of Physics Dr. John Jaszczak, supplies high quality natural graphite crystals and substrates for research, industry, and education. Jaszczak also serves as adjunct curator at the A. E. Seaman Mineral Museum.

Naturally Graphite was recently credited with supplying graphite crystals to a research group at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec in Canada. The research, published in Physical Review Letters, involved the use of high-speed electron diffraction techniques to study electron-phonon coupling in graphite.

High quality graphite crystals from Naturally Graphite are also routinely sought by laboratories around the world for the production and study of graphene. As a single layer of carbon atoms in graphite, graphene often generates much interest in carbon-based nanotechnologies. Graphene exhibits unique and amazing mechanical, electrical, and thermal properties. It is strong, highly conductive, transparent, elastic, and impermeable.

Naturally Graphite also donated graphite crystals to K-12 for an outreach event, Family Math Night based in Rocklin, California. The event involved simple experiments with graphite, including an activity for cleaving the graphite into layers using scotch tape. This was the original experiment by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov from the University of Manchester that led to the discovery of graphene and a Nobel Prize in 2010.

Learn more about the graphene sheet lesson plan in the 22-minute video Family Math Night Collaborative Project: Graphene Sheet by Elementary Mathematics Specialist Karyn Hodgens,.  The description of the experiments begins at about 16:20.