The National Physical Laboratory (NPL) recently published the world's first ISO (International Organization for Standardization) graphene standard. The standard will aim to provide consistency across the emerging world-wide graphene industry and accelerate graphene's commercial exploitation.
The new international standard defines the terminology used to describe the many different forms of graphene and related 2D materials, supporting companies in the testing and validation process. This will provide clarity among manufacturers, suppliers, NGOs and academia, helping to unlock new applications, drive down manufacturing costs and open up industrial-scale use of graphene in various applications.
While terms like 'epitaxial graphene', 'graphene oxide' and 'few-layer graphene' are commonly used across industry, prior to the publication of this new standard, there were no universally-agreed definitions. In some cases, a material that is hundreds of layers thick has been incorrectly branded 'few-layer graphene'. Inconsistencies like this prevent companies that are developing new products from fully understanding the properties of commercially-available graphene-based materials and selecting the material best suited to their application. This is a key barrier to commercialization of new products and prevents trust in the supply chain.
Recognizing this crucial industry need, NPL, as part of the UK Nanotechnologies Standardization Committee (NTI/1) of the British Standards Institution (BSI), initiated the development of this ISO standard in 2013. After a rigorous development process involving technical experts from 37 different countries, the standard is now available online and contains 99 terms and definitions covering the types of 2D materials, material production, material characterization and material properties, all of which are freely available in the ISO Online Browsing Platform.
NPL's Dr Andrew Pollard, who co-led the development of the standard, commented: "Both graphene producers and end-users have been concerned for years that inconsistent terminology has meant slower progress in the commercialization of these materials and made it difficult to determine the difference between graphene and graphite products... Although it may be understood that the term 'graphene' means a single layer of graphene, the vagueness of terms such as 'few-layer graphene' has blurred the line between graphene and graphite. This terminology standard addresses this barrier and is the first step in standardization of this emerging industry."