Kansas State is the oldest public university in the state of Kansas. It had a record high enrollment of 24,378 students for the Fall 2012 semester.
Branch campuses are located in Salina and Olathe. Salina houses the College of Technology and Aviation. The Olathe Innovation Campus is the academic research presence within the Kansas Bioscience Park, where graduate students participate in research bioenergy, animal health, plant science and food safety and security.
The university is classified as a research university with high research (RU/H) by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.
Kansas State University research articles from Innovation Toronto
- A new class of lasers – June 9, 2016
- A Kansas State University engineer has made a breakthrough in rechargeable battery applications
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- Scientists shut down reproductive ability, desire in pest insects
- Research Leads to Successful Restoration of Hearing and Balance
- Resistance gene found against Ug99 wheat stem rust pathogen
- Reducing waste of food: A key element in feeding billions more people
- Are Algae Biofuels a Realistic Alternative to Petroleum?
- Next Generation Soybean Breeding: The Potential of Spectral Analysis
- Self-Adapting Computer Network That Defends Itself Against Hackers?
- Bright Future for Alternative Energy With Greener Solar Cells
Forget chemicals, catalysts and expensive machinery — a Kansas State University team of physicists has discovered a way to mass-produce graphene with three ingredients: hydrocarbon gas, oxygen and a spark plug.
Their method is simple: Fill a chamber with acetylene or ethylene gas and oxygen. Use a vehicle spark plug to create a contained detonation. Collect the graphene that forms afterward.
Chris Sorensen, Cortelyou-Rust university distinguished professor of physics, is the lead inventor of the recently issued patent, “Process for high-yield production of graphene via detonation of carbon-containing material.” Other Kansas State University researchers involved include Arjun Nepal, postdoctoral researcher and instructor of physics, and Gajendra Prasad Singh, former visiting scientist.
“We have discovered a viable process to make graphene,” Sorensen said. “Our process has many positive properties, from the economic feasibility, the possibility for large-scale production and the lack of nasty chemicals. What might be the best property of all is that the energy required to make a gram of graphene through our process is much less than other processes because all it takes is a single spark.”
Graphene is a single atom-thick sheet of hexagonally coordinated carbon atoms, which makes it the world’s thinnest material. Since graphene was isolated in 2004, scientists have found it has valuable physical and electronic properties with many possible applications, such as more efficient rechargeable batteries or better electronics.
For Sorensen’s research team, the serendipitous path to creating graphene started when they were developing and patenting carbon soot aerosol gels. They created the gels by filling a 17-liter aluminum chamber with acetylene gas and oxygen. Using a spark plug, they created a detonation in the chamber. The soot from the detonation formed aerosol gels that looked like “black angel food cake,” Sorensen said.
But after further analysis, the researchers found that the aerosol gel was more than lookalike dark angel food cake — it was graphene.
“We made graphene by serendipity,” Sorensen said. “We didn’t plan on making graphene. We planned on making the aerosol gel and we got lucky.”
But unlike other methods of creating graphene, Sorensen’s method is simple, efficient, low-cost and scalable for industry.
Other methods of creating graphene involve “cooking” the mineral graphite with chemicals — such as sulfuric acid, sodium nitrate, potassium permanganate or hydrazine — for a long time at precisely prescribed temperatures. Additional methods involve heating hydrocarbons to 1,000 degrees Celsius in the presence of catalysts.
Such methods are energy intensive — and even dangerous — and have low yield, while Sorensen and his team’s method makes larger quantities with minimal energy and no dangerous chemicals.
“The real charm of our experiment is that we can produce graphene in the quantity of grams rather than milligrams,” Nepal said.
Now the research team — including Justin Wright, doctoral student in physics, Camp Hill, Pennsylvania — is working to improve the quality of the graphene and scale the laboratory process to an industrial level. They are upgrading some of the equipment to make it easier to get graphene from the chamber seconds — rather than minutes — after the detonation. Accessing the graphene more quickly could improve the quality of the material, Sorensen said.
The patent was issued to the Kansas State University Research Foundation, a nonprofit corporation responsible for managing technology transfer activities at the university.
Arjun Nepal, Kansas State University postdoctoral researcher and instructor of physics, describes a special process of mass-producing graphene.
A new class of lasers developed by a team that included physics researchers at Kansas State University could help scientists measure distances to faraway targets, identify the presence of certain gases in the atmosphere and send images of the earth from space.
These energy-efficient lasers also are portable, produce light at difficult-to-reach wavelengths and have the potential to scale to high-powered versions.
The new lasers were invented by Brian Washburn and Kristan Corwin, both associate professors of physics at Kansas State University’s College of Arts & Sciences, along with Andrew Jones, a May 2012 doctoral graduate in physics, and Rajesh Kadel, a May 2014 doctoral graduate in physics. Other contributors include three University of New Mexico physics and astronomy researchers: Wolfgang Rudolf, a Regents professor and department chair, Vasudevan Nampoothiri, a research assistant professor, and Amarin Ratanavis, a doctoral student; and John Zavada, a Virginia-based optic and photonic physicist who brought them all together.
The new lasers are fiber-based and use various molecular gases to produce light. They differ from traditional glass-tube lasers, which are large and bulky, and have mirrors to reflect the light. But the novel lasers use a hollow fiber with a honeycomb structure to hold gas and to guide light. This optical fiber is filled with a molecular gas, such as hydrogen cyanide or acetylene. Another laser excites the gas and causes a molecule of the excited gas to spontaneously emit light. Other molecules in the gas quickly follow suit, which results in laser light.