Compression and aggregation-resistant particles of crumpled soft sheets

Jiayan Luo, Hee Dong Jang, Tao Sun, Li Xiao, Zhen He, Alexandros P. Katsoulidis, Mercouri Kanatzidis, J. Murray Gibson, Jiaxing Huang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

404 Scopus citations


Unlike flat sheets, crumpled paper balls have both high free volume and high compressive strength, and can tightly pack without significantly reducing the area of accessible surface. Such properties would be highly desirable for sheet-like materials such as graphene, since they tend to aggregate in solution and restack in the solid state, making their properties highly dependent on the material processing history. Here we report the synthesis of crumpled graphene balls by capillary compression in rapidly evaporating aerosol droplets. The crumpled particles are stabilized by locally folded, π-π stacked ridges as a result of plastic deformation, and do not unfold or collapse during common processing steps. In addition, they are remarkably aggregation-resistant in either solution or solid state, and remain largely intact and redispersible after chemical treatments, wet processing, annealing, and even pelletizing at high pressure. For example, upon compression at 55 MPa, the regular flat graphene sheets turn into nondispersible chunks with drastically reduced surface area by 84%, while the crumpled graphene particles can still maintain 45% of their original surface area and remain readily dispersible in common solvents. Therefore, crumpled particles could help to standardize graphene-based materials by delivering more stable properties such as high surface area and solution processability regardless of material processing history. This should greatly benefit applications using bulk quantities of graphene, such as in energy storage or conversion devices. As a proof of concept, we demonstrate that microbial fuel electrodes modified by the crumpled particles indeed outperform those modified with their flat counterparts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8943-8949
Number of pages7
JournalACS nano
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 22 2011


  • aerosol
  • aggregation-resistant particles
  • capillary compression
  • crumpling
  • graphene
  • graphene oxide
  • strain hardening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Materials Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


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