I have been “hanging out” with a research group at Penn (alas, there is not a more dignified way to describe this relationship .. but at least I am there by invitation and it’s awesome). We needed to create some electrodes that were resistant to electrolytic degradation, and we were interested in some clever alternative to the old (and rather expensive) stand-bys, like platinum and gold.
It turns out that graphite is right up there at the tip-top of the Galvanic series, so it is about the most robust electrode material we could want. However, we also wanted to be able to draw arbitrary electrode geometries and, while graphite is definitely suited to drawing, pencil lines are too resistive and too inconsistent to function as electrodes in our application. Graphite in “bulk” form conducts well (in fact, too well for our needs), and it is hard to machine. We wanted a technique that would let us “draw” relatively conductive lines easily, and it quickly became became apparent that we needed something a little novel. Somehow, I vaguely remembered seeing a few hacks where folks used light-scribe drives to create patterned graphene for super-capacitors, and I got to wondering whether I could make graphene too. I am happy to report that the light-scribe method works as advertised and that it was every bit as easy as I had hoped.