Graphene is a one-atom-thick sheet of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb-like pattern. Graphene is considered to be the world's thinnest, strongest and most conductive material - of both electricity and heat. All of these properties are exciting researchers and businesses around the world - as graphene has the potential to revolutionize entire industries - in the fields of electricity, conductivity, energy generation, batteries, sensors and more.
Graphene is the world's strongest material, and can be used to enhance the strength of other materials. Dozens of researchers have demonstrated that adding even a trace amount of graphene to plastics, metals or other materials can make these materials much stronger - or lighter (as you can use a smaller amount of material to achieve the same strength).
Such graphene-enhanced composite materials can find uses in aerospace, building materials, mobile devices, and many other applications.
Graphene is the most heat conductive found to date. As graphene is also strong and light, it means that it is a great material for making heat-spreading solutions, such as heat sinks or heat dissipation films. This could be useful in both microelectronics (for example to make LED lighting more efficient and longer lasting) and also in larger applications - for example thermal foils for mobile devices. Huawei's latest smartphones, for example, have adopted graphene-based thermal films.
Since graphene is the world's thinnest material, it also extremely high surface-area to volume ratio. This makes graphene a very promising material for use in batteries and supercapacitors. Graphene may enable batteries and supercapacitors (and even fuel-cells) that can store more energy - and charge faster, too.
Coatings ,sensors, electronics and more
Graphene has a lot of promise for additional applications: anti-corrosion coatings and paints, efficient and precise sensors, faster and efficient electronics, flexible displays, efficient solar panels, faster DNA sequencing, drug delivery, and more.
Graphene is such a great and basic building block that it seems that any industry can benefit from this new material. Time will tell where graphene will indeed make an impact - or whether other new materials will be more suitable.
The latest Graphene Application news:
Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and Pusan National University in South Korea recently developed a graphene-enhanced actuator for robotics applications, that is inspired by mammalian skeletal and muscle structures. The new actuator is based on soft fibers with strong contractive actuation properties.
The team explained that they based their work on liquid crystal elastomer (LCE) actuators, promising soft actuator materials with unusually large reversible dimensional change (shrink/relaxation) upon actuation, which is rarely observed in other kinds of actuator materials but highly significant to ideally mimic natural skeletal muscle behavior. Many actuators developed in the past are based on LCE materials, a class of polymers that can rapidly change shape in response to environmental stimuli. Despite their shape-morphing advantages, LCE polymers are known to be associated with the relatively poor mechanical properties and weak actuation behavior. To overcome this limitation, the researchers incorporated graphene fillers within the LCE actuators. In addition to enhancing their mechanical properties, the team expected the graphene fillers to enable light-driven, rapid and remotely controllable actuation, owing to the photothermal conversion capability of graphene.
Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the University of Science and Technology of China and North China University of Water Resources and Electric Power have studied the effects of irradiation defects on the work function of graphene electrodes in thermionic energy converters (TECs) and found that the generation of defects in graphene through irradiation would increase the work function and reduce the electron emission capacity.
Schematic diagram of a thermionic energy converter. (Image by ZHAO Ming)
Graphene has great potential as an electrode coating material for TECs of the microreactor, which can significantly improve the electron emission ability of electrode. Electrode materials will be exposed to irradiation by high-energy particles during TECs use. Previous studies have shown that the types of defects induced by irradiation in graphene are mainly Stone-Wales defects, doping defects, and carbon vacancies. The appearance of defects will affect the adsorption properties of alkali and alkaline earth metals on the graphene surface in the electrode gap, and then change the electron emission properties of the graphene coating.
Silca, producer of bicycle accessories, has launched a graphene-based chain lubricant, Hot Wax X. Silca claims it ‘runs roughly 0.5 watts faster’ than their original Secret Chain Blend hot-melt wax, and that it can extend the chain life to 30,000km. The new lubricant comes at quite a high price of £220 per 300g tin.
Silca previously made waves with its Secret Blend Hot Chain Wax, which gained the reputation of 'the fastest lubricant in the world'. Now, Silca found Nanene (by Versarien, which owns the Nanene brand), a commercial type of graphene, to further improve its product.
Researchers from China's Tsinghua University have constructed highly aligned graphene oxide (GO) nanochannels for sustainable energy production using a freeze-casting process. The new method could address an issue that impedes the generation of electricity from natural water flow through engineered nanochannels, which could become a viable way to cater to the fast-growing renewable power needs.
Large-scale nanochannel integration and the multi-parameter coupling restrictive influence on electric generation currently remain big challenges for macroscale applications, but this novel design encourages spontaneous absorption and directed transfer of water within the nanochannels to generate clean electricity.
Skoltech researchers have patented a method that enables producing arbitrarily shaped functional graphene components on a transparent substrate with 100-nanometer resolution, which could be especially suited for flexible and transparent electronics. The new approach reportedly helps avoid defects that arise during graphene transfer between substrates and strongly affect the material’s quality.
“Flexible and transparent electronics is typically associated with wearable biosensors that monitor vital signs, such as heart rate, breathing, and blood oxygenation, and relay them to a smartphone or fitness band,” Skoltech PhD student Aleksei Shiverskii, one of the inventors, said. “An affordable and efficient technology that at first may seem impractical soon becomes a ubiquitous and indispensable appliance, like a bluetooth electric kettle or a wifi vacuum cleaner. I believe that someday flexible and transparent electronics will become a fixture, too.”
Researchers from Rice University, University of Calgary, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and University of Washington have managed to turn a waste material called asphaltene (a byproduct of crude oil production) into graphene.
Rice University's Muhammad Rahman, an assistant research professor of materials science and nanoengineering, is employing Rice’s unique flash Joule heating process to convert asphaltenes instantly into turbostratic (loosely aligned) graphene and mix it into composites for thermal, anti-corrosion and 3D-printing applications. The process makes good use of material otherwise burned for reuse as fuel or discarded into tailing ponds and landfills. Using at least some of the world’s reserve of more than 1 trillion barrels of asphaltene as a feedstock for graphene would be good for the environment as well.
Nanotech Energy recently reported a demonstration of its graphene-powered batteries' non-flammable qualities in a new abuse test. A Nanotech Graphene-Powered Lithium-Ion Battery 18650 cell was shot by a 4.5BRA bullet at a speed of 2,917 feet per second. Despite the considerable force of impact, the battery did not catch fire and even still held a charge.
In contrast, the company said that a rival commercial battery 18650 cell shot by a 4.5BRA bullet at a speed of 2,915 feet per second immediately burst into flames and no longer held a charge.
Advanced Material Development (AMD) has announced that it has signed a contract for collaborative work with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for AMD’s proprietary thin-film graphene-based coatings technology - a Radio Frequency absorbing nanomaterial that can be applied to a variety of substrates. JPL is a research and development laboratory federally funded by NASA and managed by the California Institute of Technology.
Image from AMD website, Courtesy of NASA/JPL-CalTech
The collaborative work is planned to be used for the NASA Europa Clipper spacecraft electromagnetic compatibility test campaign. AMD’s materials could help enable the Europa Clipper project to confirm that the spacecraft’s sensitive ice-penetrating radar will operate properly at key frequencies so as to meet science objectives.
Levidian's decarbonization technology will be deployed in the UK for the first time as part of a collaboration with solutions business Eco Group. Levidian stated that Eco Group’s deployment in the south of Scotland will be the first remote implementation of the LOOP technology in the UK. It is also a world-first deployment of a LOOP system with fully integrated hydrogen separation.
The LOOP device uses a patented low temperature, low pressure process to crack methane into its constituent atoms, hydrogen and carbon, without the need for catalysts or additives - decarbonizing methane-rich gas to deliver hydrogen and graphene on site.
Researchers from Northeastern University in Boston and University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) have used a process called auger-mediated positron sticking (AMPS) to develop a new technique that can measure the properties of the topmost atomic layer of materials.
This spectroscopic tool uses virtual photons to measure the topmost atomic layer’s electronic structure selectively. When incoming positrons change from vacuum states to bound surface states on the sample surface, they produce virtual photons with the energy to excite electrons into the vacuum.