Cambridge Nanosystems opens new UK graphene production facility

Cambridge Nanosystems logoCambridge Nanosystems announced opening a new Cambridge, UK graphene production facility. The new factory aims to produce ultra-high quality graphene on a commercial scale for the very first time. The facility will house the company's full-scale production unit capable of producing large quantities of graphene. The company will soon also launch their online store for graphene sales.

The new factory enables Cambridge Nanosystems to increase its graphene production capacity to five tonnes per year and to continue to scale it up in the coming years. Cambridge Nanosystems aims to be the world leader in the production of ultra-high-quality graphene on a commercial scale.

Nokia patents a graphene oxide sensor for protection of mobile devices from water

Nokia recently issued a patent for a graphene oxide-based sensor for protection of mobile devices against water damages. The sensor will use a graphene oxide sensing film senses moisture content or change in relative humidity and triggers an ultra-fast disconnection of the mobile device from its power source (battery).

The sensor will include a sensor capable of sensing water in liquid or vapor form based on the measurement of large time derivative values. The sensor will comprise of a graphene oxide thin film and two or more electrodes in contact with the thin film. An electronic switch will be connected to the sensor and to a power source that powers the circuitry in the electronic device. The GO can be easily integrated into the sensor as a thin film by printing it on the power source's surface.The film should be less than 100 nanometers thick and could also be spray-coated or spin-coated onto the surface.

Vittoria launches graphene-based cycling wheels!

International wheel producer Vittoria released a new range of bicycle wheels that are built from graphene-enhanced composite materials. The wheels, called Quarno (Graphene Plus inside) are now available in three different editions (46, 60 and 84 mm) and contain graphene nanoplatelets (GNPs) provided by Directa Plus.

The company explains that the graphene grants the wheels advantages like heat dissipation (15-30°C lower) – a crucial factor in the slopes, an increase in lateral stiffness (more than 50%) and puncture reduction, especially around the valve area. A couple of wheels weigh 1,250 grams together and the price ranges from €1,450 to €1,850.

Graphene moves forward when hit by light

Researchers at the Nankai University in China noticed that when cutting a graphene sponge (a sponge-like material made by fusing crumpled sheets of graphene oxide) with a laser, the light propelled the material forwards. While lasers have been previously used to move single molecules around, the sponge was a few centimeters across and presumably too large to move.

The scientists then placed pieces of graphene sponge in a vacuum and shot them with lasers of different wavelength and intensity. They managed to push sponge pieces upwards by as much as 40 centimeters. They even got the graphene to move by focusing sunlight on it with a lens.

Spiraling laser pulses find graphene's on/off switch

Scientists from the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and the Stanford Institute for Materials and Energy Sciences (SIMES) collaborated to study the effects of spiraling pulses of laser light on graphene. They discovered that such spiraling laser pulses can theoretically change the electronic properties of graphene, switching it back and forth from a metallic state (where electrons flow freely), to an insulating state.

Such ability could mean that it is possible to use light to encode information in a computer memory, for instance. The study, while theoretical, attempted to work in as close-to-real experimental conditions as possible, right down to the shape of the laser pulses. The team found that the laser's interaction with graphene yielded surprising results, producing a band gap and also inducing a quantum state in which the graphene has a so-called “Chern number” of either one or zero, which results from a phenomenon known as Berry curvature and offers another on/off state that scientists might be able to exploit.

Korean scientists create a graphene supercapacitor that equals Li-ion battery energy density and charges quickly

Scientists of the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea developed a graphene supercapacitor that stores as much energy per kilogram as a lithium-ion battery and can be recharged in under four minutes. 

The supercapacitor was created in two stages. First, the scientists exposed powdered graphite to oxygen in a controlled manner to produce graphite oxide, then continues to heat the graphite oxide to 160°C in a vessel which had an internal pressure of a tenth of an atmosphere. The chemical reactions that followed produced carbon dioxide and steam. The increased internal pressure these gases created, pushing against the reduced external pressure in the vessel, broke the graphite into its constituent sheets. Those, after a bit of further treatment to remove surplus oxygen, were then suitable for incorporation into a supercapacitor. 

Simulations suggest a liquid phase in atomically thin gold islands that patch small pores of graphene

Scientists at the Nanoscience Center at the University of Jyväskylä in Finland ran computer simulations that predict a liquid phase in atomically thin golden islands that patch small pores of graphene. According to the simulations, gold atoms flow and change places in the plane, while the surrounding graphene template retains the planarity of liquid membrane.

Liquid phase of 2D materials was considered impossible since the thermal atomic motion required for molten materials easily breaks the thin and fragile membrane. The liquid phase was predicted by computer simulations using quantum-mechanical models and nanostructures with tens or hundreds of gold atoms. The role of graphene is in setting the circular frame and the liquid state is possible when the edge of a graphene pore stretches the metallic membrane and keeps it steady.

Graphene enhances artificial muscles' durability

Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) managed to create durable artificial muscles using a graphene electrode. Ionic polymer metal composites (IPMCs), or artificial muscles, change in size or shape when exposed to electric fields and could be extremely useful in the fields of robotics and prosthetics. 

IPMC motors, (referred to as actuators), are created from a molecular membrane that is stretched between two metal electrodes. Upon applying an electric field, a redistribution of ions is caused that forces the structure to bend. These structures do not consume a lot of power and are able to mimic life-like motions. These devices, however, have a number of disadvantages like cracks that form on the metal electrodes and cause ions to leak through the electrodes and reduce performance. A possible solution to this problem is embodied in the researchers' thin electrode, based on an ionic polymer-graphene composition (IPGC). These new electrodes repel water and are very resistant to cracking. They also have a robust inner surface that allows the migration of ions within the membrane to cause bending.

German scientists use graphene to improve Hall sensors

Researchers at the German RWTH University and AMO GmbH Aachen fabricated highly sensitive Hall Effect sensors using single layer graphene. Graphene's very high carrier mobility at room temperature and very low carrier densities make it a material that can outperform all currently existing Hall sensor technologies.

The researchers protected the graphene from ambient contamination by encapsulating it with hexagonal boron nitride layers. The consequently fabricated devices showed a voltage and current normalized sensitivity of up to 3 V/VT and 5700 V/AT, respectively. These values are more than one order of magnitude above the values achieved in Silicon-based devices and a factor of two above the values achieved with the best III/V semiconductors Hall sensors in ambient conditions. In addition, these results are far better than the earlier reported graphene Hall sensors on Silicon oxide and Silicon carbide substrates.

Theragnostic Technologies to launch a graphene-based MRI agent next month

Theragnostic Technologies logoIn 2012, researchers from Stony Brook University established a new company called Theragnostic Technologies to develop a new efficient graphene-based MRI contrast agent that is safer and cheaper than current gadolinium-based agents.

Next month the company is set to unveil its product, the ManGraDex graphene-based MRI agent. The company says that this new contrast agent will greatly improve the MRI safety and efficacy of MRI - and will also expand the MRI market into unserved renal and cardiovascular patients.