Graphene is easy to acquire, at least in small amounts. The first scientists to isolate the strong, two-dimensional carbon material simply pressed a piece of Scotch tape to a chunk of graphite and peeled it off. But mass production of graphene for commercial uses remains a challenge. Now, scientists have shown they can rapidly produce large quantities of graphene using a bath of inorganic salts and an electric current (J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014, DOI: 10.1021/ja5017156).
Several other methods have been developed for producing graphene, but each has its drawbacks. Growing the carbon sheets takes too long, and chemical vapor deposition requires a metal catalyst, with a second step to remove the metal. Other methods using solvents or surfactants can harm the electronic properties of graphene or produce lower yields.