This Instructable (loosely) follows the method of graphene production described by C&EN, who cite a paper published by Parvez, Wu, et. al. In the paper (Exfoliation of Graphite into Graphene in Aqueous Solutions of Inorganic Salts), it is explained that putting a graphite electrode and a platinum electrode into a solution of inorganic salts (ammonium sulfate works best, they say) with a 10V supply (graphite = anode, platinum = cathode) causes the graphite to be torn apart by electrochemical activity to become graphene! Graphene has attracted much hype and study recently. One of its near-term applications may be in high density supercapacitors.
Step 1: Making the graphene
To make the experiment conditions described in the paper, pure platinum was required for electrode material. Unfortunately, all I had on hand was 90%/10% Pt/Ir wire, a deplorable situation no doubt shared by many in the audience. (Those who do not have either on hand may try gold, or carbon, but I have not tested these.) Also, instead of graphite sheet of some sort that was used by the referenced experimenters, we used a piece of graphite mold blank. This choice is probably why our experiment time was around 19 hours but the published one was 3-5 minutes. Surface area to volume ratios...
To make graphene, you need:
10-15V supply, a car battery would work
0.1 molarity solution (NH3)S04, in water, and awareness of how to calculate molarity (ammonium sulfate weighs 132.14 g/mol)
graphite, we used a piece of a mold blank (it may be possible to use carbon fiber but I haven't tried)
See attached lab notes for a detailed description of the exfoliation procedure as completed by me.