The Relational Imagery of Graphite & Graphene

The attributes of graphene and its electric and thermal conductivity have always fascinated me. Graphene simply put, is a single one atom thick layer of graphite. And graphite is what is used to make pencil lead. Essentially graphite is made up of hundreds of thousands of layers of graphene. What differentiates the structural make up of the two is how they are made.

I thought it would be interesting to compare graphite (which is mixed with clay during the firing process) against a low grade oxygen reduction fired piece of charcoal.

I also wanted to test the chemical reactions of these two materials when mixed with other substances like rain water.

This is a sample of low oxygen reduction processed charcoal.


This is a sample of low oxygen reduction processed charcoal mixed with rain water.


This is a sample of graphite scraped off of a lead pencil.


This is a sample of graphite mixed with rain water.


What first strikes me when comparing these images is the chemical reaction between both substances when mixed with rain water. If you look closely at the images mixed with rain water you can see the bright image of a bird looking symbol which is not detected in the other images. It is almost like it comes alive.

My next experiment will be to test these materials with other substances like tap water (which surely contains chlorine and fluoride) and vinegar. And last but not least, I want to connect a tiny anode and cathode so I can see what kind of reaction I can record with a Foldscope!


8 Comments Add yours

  1. mherring says:

    Very Cool! It will be exciting to see your captures of chemical reactions 🙂 Especially if you make an anode/cathode pair! If you do that, please post about your set-up as well as your findings, since that would be valuable in many other circumstances.
    It strikes me, from your picture, that your Foldscope might be constructed slightly incorrectly; the top arm is supposed to weave under the colored strips. See This might be preventing the lens from getting close enough to the sample to get good focus 🙂
    I look forward to seeing your explorations! I love your approach of looking at multiple forms of the same element 🙂

  2. Manu Prakash says:

    Good catch @marie.

    @Tina: Also; I am curious what the back side of your foldscope look like. I usually add a 3M invisible tape diffuser to make the field much whiter; you will get greater contrast.

    Also; if you have one glass slide – I would compare it to see what your images look like. This will allow us to debug your microscope from far away.

    Very excited; and looking forward to reading more posts. Nobody has ever posted a reaction under a microscope. That would be so beautiful 🙂


  3. Tina Cornely says:

    Thank Marie and Manu! I will make the suggested adjustments and re test. When I redo I will also make the mini air battery. It’s going to be fun!

    Kind regards and much respect, T.

  4. tinacornely says:

    Getting ready for my humanitarian trip to Honduras where I will be teaching students from a rural high school how to use a foldscope so they can monitor mosquito larvae. The students will be given diagrams of the different types of mosquito larvae so they will be able to tell the difference between Zika larvae from other types of mosquito larvae. Honduran officials recently declared a national emergency because of the rampant spike in Zika cases. The foldscope will become a valuable tool that will help grass root groups share vital data with health authorities who are monitoring Zika.

  5. Cristina says:

    Absolutely magnificent goal! Wish you all the best luck!

  6. tinacornely says:

    Thanks Cristina! It is going to be a very interesting assignment.

  7. Manu Prakash says:

    Wonderful goal @Tina. Also a look at @saad’s latest post:


    1. tinacornely says:

      Awesome Manu! Thanks for sharing Saad’s video with me. I am so glad that others are realizing how the foldscope can assist with vector control and valuable data compilation. The foldscope is such a valuable tool!

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