Centrifuge-Free Separation of Solution-Exfoliated 2D Nanosheets via Cross-Flow Filtration

Julia R. Downing, Santiago Diaz-Arauzo, Lindsay E. Chaney, Daphne Tsai, Janan Hui, Jung Woo T. Seo, Deborah R. Cohen, Michael Dango, Jinrui Zhang, Nicholas X. Williams, Justin H. Qian, Jennifer B. Dunn, Mark C. Hersam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Solution-processed graphene is a promising material for numerous high-volume applications including structural composites, batteries, sensors, and printed electronics. However, the polydisperse nature of graphene dispersions following liquid-phase exfoliation poses major manufacturing challenges, as incompletely exfoliated graphite flakes must be removed to achieve optimal properties and downstream performance. Incumbent separation schemes rely on centrifugation, which is highly energy-intensive and limits scalable manufacturing. Here, cross-flow filtration (CFF) is introduced as a centrifuge-free processing method that improves the throughput of graphene separation by two orders of magnitude. By tuning membrane pore sizes between microfiltration and ultrafiltration length scales, CFF can also be used for efficient recovery of solvents and stabilizing polymers. In this manner, life cycle assessment and techno-economic analysis reveal that CFF reduces greenhouse gas emissions, fossil energy usage, water consumption, and specific production costs of graphene manufacturing by 57%, 56%, 63%, and 72%, respectively. To confirm that CFF produces electronic-grade graphene, CFF-processed graphene nanosheets are formulated into printable inks, leading to state-of-the-art thin-film conductivities exceeding 104 S m−1. This CFF methodology can likely be generalized to other van der Waals layered solids, thus enabling sustainable manufacturing of the diverse set of applications currently being pursued for 2D materials.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2212042
JournalAdvanced Materials
Issue number24
StatePublished - Jun 15 2023


  • graphene
  • life cycle assessment
  • liquid-phase exfoliation
  • printed electronics
  • tangential flow filtration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • General Materials Science


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