Melamine sponges modified with graphene

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  • Published: Oct 24, 2017
  • Author: Rafael Lucena
  • Channels: Proteomics & Genomics / Ion Chromatography / Electrophoresis / Detectors / Laboratory Informatics / HPLC / Sample Preparation / Gas Chromatography / Base Peak / NMR Knowledge Base / MRI Spectroscopy / Chemometrics & Informatics / Atomic / Raman / Infrared Spectroscopy / Proteomics / X-ray Spectrometry / UV/Vis Spectroscopy

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The description of new sorptive phases is a key trend in microextraction. Melamine sponges are three-dimensional structures made of formaldehyde-melamine-sodium bisulfate copolymer and characterized by a high porosity and a hydrophilic nature. This foam-like material is commercially available at low prices and is used for several purposes such as insulating and sound proofing. The physicochemical properties of the sponges make them interesting as potential sorbents. However, their hydrophilic nature must be switched by chemical functionalization to promote the interaction with analytes in an aqueous media.

Researchers from the University of Ioannina and the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece have recently proposed a simple method to immobilize graphene over the sponges surface. The synthesis simply consists of the immersion of melamine sponges in a graphene oxide (GO) dispersion in water in the presence of hydrazine. This medium is microwaved for only 2 min. and the modified materials are finally dried in a oven. The immobilization of GO is based on the interaction of its oxygen-rich functional groups with the amino moieties of the sponge surface. In addition, hydrazine is used as reducing agent to transform GO into graphene.

This functionalization does not affect to the 3D structure of the sponges but provides the material with a highly hydrophobicity. This fact can be observed in this image where the different behavior of raw (white) and modified (black) sponges in aqueous media is clearly shown.

The synthesized sponges have been used as sorbents towards several sulfonamides in different samples. The authors have studied in detail the interaction chemistries between the analytes and the sorbent which combine π-π, hydrophobic and weak electrostatic interactions. The results have demonstrated the potential of the new sorbent since high enrichment factors are obtained with a reduced matrix effect.

The green chemistry connotations of this approach should be highlighted. The synthesis does not require high amounts of reagents and solvents. In addition, it opens a door to the reusing of materials coming from production surpluses.


We would like to thank the authors of the article for providing the picture of raw and functionalized melamine sponges.


  1. Graphene-functionalized melamine sponges for microextraction of sulfonamides from food and environmental samples.

Blog post by: Rafael Lucena


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