Graphene-based system may enable imaging of electrical activity in heart and nerve cells

Researchers at the Berkeley Lab and Stanford University have used graphene as the film of an ultra-sensitive camera system designed for visually mapping tiny electric fields in a liquid. The new platform should permit single-cell measurements of electrical impulses traveling across networks containing 100 or more living cells. The researchers hope it will allow more extensive and precise imaging of the electrical signaling networks in our hearts and brains. Additional potential applications include the development of lab-on-a-chip devices, sensing devices and more.

The team explains that the basic concept was examining how graphene could be used as a general and scalable method for resolving very small changes in the magnitude, position, and timing pattern of a local electric field, such as the electrical impulses produced by a single nerve cell. Other techniques have been developed to measure electrical signals from small arrays of cells, but these can be difficult to scale up to larger arrays and in some cases cannot trace individual electrical impulses to a specific cell. In addition, this new method does not perturb cells in any way, which is fundamentally different from existing methods that use either genetic or chemical modifications of the cell membrane.

Nitrogen-doped graphene quantum dots may help turn harmful gases into fuel

Researchers at Rice University have found that nitrogen-doped graphene quantum dots (NGQDs) could be an efficient electrocatalyst for making complex hydrocarbons from carbon dioxide, and used electrocatalysis to demonstrated the conversion of the greenhouse gas into small batches of ethylene and ethanol. This could prove a fascinating and simple way to recycle waste carbon dioxide into valuable fuel.

While the researchers say that the exact mechanism is yet to be fully explored, they found that NGQDs worked nearly as efficiently as copper, which is also being tested as a catalyst to reduce carbon dioxide into liquid fuels and chemicals. In lab tests, NGQDs proved able to reduce carbon dioxide by up to 90% and convert 45% into either ethylene or alcohol, comparable to copper electrocatalysts. NGQDs also have the advantage of keeping their catalytic activity for a long time.

Exeter team unveils novel graphene production method that could accelerate commercial graphene use

Researchers from the University of Exeter have developed a new method for creating entire device arrays directly on the copper substrates used for commercial manufacture of graphene. Complete and fully-functional devices can then be transferred to a substrate of choice, such as silicon, plastics or even textiles.

This new approach is said to be cheaper, simpler and less time consuming than conventional ways of producing graphene-based devices, thus holding real potential to open up the use of cheap-to-produce graphene devices for a host of applications from gas and biomedical sensors to displays.

CalBattery announces scaling-up production of its high capacity anode material

CalBattery logoCalBattery, the U.S-based developer of a Silicon-Graphene (SiGr) composite anode material for li-ion batteries, recently announced that it has successfully scaled-up its new fluidized bed chemical vapor deposition process and is producing commercial quality and quantities of its breakthrough high capacity silicon composite anode material for use in li-ion batteries.

Over the past 5 years CalBattery’s team has worked with over thirty engineering groups to develop, build, and optimize a new type of fluidized bed chemical vapor deposition reactor capable of producing novel industry leading silicon composite lithium battery anode materials that can be specially engineered to incorporate between 10% -50% silicon with limited swelling and good cycle life compared to other LIB silicon anode materials used today.

CealTech progresses to the next level with new large PE-CVD graphene production facility

Norway-based CealTech was established in 2012 to commercialize a patented 3D graphene production method. The company has now signed a contact to a new larger facility (located at Forus in Stavanger, Norway) as the company is entering the 2nd phase of its growth strategy.

CealTech Facility at Fours in Stavanger photo

CealTech will establish its own laboratories in the new facility in early 2017, as it aims to begin graphene production in March 2017, using the first FORZA graphene production unit and automated graphene packing line. CealTech aims to become the world's largest producer of pure PE-CVD graphene following the commission of the new production unit.

Graphene "silly putty" enables next-gen sensors

Researchers in AMBER, the materials science research center located in Trinity College Dublin and funded by Science Foundation Ireland, have used graphene-enhanced "silly putty" (polysilicone) to create extremely sensitive sensors. This fascinating research offers exciting possibilities for applications in new, inexpensive devices and diagnostics in medicine and other sectors.

The researchers discovered that the electrical resistance of putty infused with graphene (“G-putty”) was extremely sensitive to the slightest deformation or impact. They mounted the G-putty onto the chest and neck of human subjects and used it to measure breathing, pulse and even blood pressure. It showed unprecedented sensitivity as a sensor for strain and pressure, being hundreds of times more sensitive than normal sensors. The G-putty also works as a very sensitive impact sensor, able to detect the footsteps of small spiders. The scientists believe that this material will find applications in a range of medical devices.

Graphene oxide helps in creating antibacterial 'cloak'

Researchers at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart (UCSC) and the National Research Council (ISC-CNR) in Italy have used graphene oxide to develop an antimicrobial ‘cloak’ which could play a key role in protecting from the build-up of dangerous microbial biofilms.

The team found that an agar hydrogel that contains graphene-oxide and laser printed to mimic the shell surface of the Cancer pagurus crab, acts to lower growth of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, and fungal cells. The Cancer pagurus crab evolved an interesting defense against microbial infection - a shell where the outer surface, or the carapace, is shaped in a way which makes it much harder for microbes to grow.

GRAMOFON project aims to capture CO2 with the help of graphene aerogels

Project GRAMOFON, a 3.5 year project that started in October 2016, aims to establish a process for efficient CO2 capture by innovative adsorbents based on modified graphene aerogels and MOF materials. The EU will contribute nearly €4.2 million to the project.

The key objectives of GRAMOFON projects are:

  • to develop and prototype a new energy and cost-competitive dry separation process for post-combustion CO2 capture based on innovative hybrid porous solids Metal organic frameworks (MOFs) and Graphene Oxide nanostructures.
  • to optimize the CO2 desorption process by means of Microwave Swing Desorption (MSD) and Joule effect, that will surpass the efficiency of the conventional heating procedures.

Graphene-enhanced street lighting fixtures are being deployed in China

Reports out of China state that graphene-based road lighting fixtures are being installed in 28 streets in Beijing, which are said to be up to 30% more energy efficient than current fixtures. These graphene lamps can reportedly reach 140 lumens per watt, which means the new lamps can be much brighter than currently used ones, that produce 110 lumens per watt.

The fixtures' exteriors are made of black and grey composite materials and most of the heat-conducting adhesives and chips inside are said to be produced with graphene. The Chinese official PR mentioned a company called MS Technology but its exact role is not clear. It is said to be "a company focusing on heat dispersing materials research and the firm that first invented graphene lamps that were put into mass production".

Graphene and hBN shown to significantly enhance the performance of a working fuel cell

Researchers at The University of Manchester, UK, have tested graphene and hexagonal boron nitride (hBN) in the membrane area of fuel cell. The reported results show a rather exciting reduction in crossover (diffusion of methanol from anode to cathode through the membrane that causes short-circuits) with no changes in proton conductivity and a performance improvement of up to 50%.

Fuel cells, devices that convert the chemical energy of fuel directly into electrical energy through oxidation-reduction reactions, are considered to have potential for use in future energy applications as they are efficient and clean. Methanol fuel cells are widely favored due to their usage of methnaol as a liquid fuel, simplicity in operation, higher energy density of methnaol fuel and more. A major hindrance to commercialization,though, is methanol crossover taking place in the membrane area of fuel cells, leading to short circuits and greatly affecting overall performance.