Graphene applications: what is graphene used for?

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.

Mechanical strength

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).

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Such graphene-enhanced composite materials can find uses in aerospace, building materials, mobile devices, and many other applications.

Thermal 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.

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Energy storage

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.

Graphene battery advantages imageThe advantages of graphene batteries

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.

Researchers use "fuzzy graphene" to promote a carbon-neutral economy

Researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carnegie Mellon University, North Carolina State University and Yale University have developed a novel method to enhance the efficiency and stability of solar-driven, carbon-dioxide reduction.

Image credit: Applied Materials and Interfaces

This new technique involves the use of “fuzzy” graphene to improve the performance of semiconductor-based photoelectrodes, which initialize electrochemical transformations following the absorption of light. The term fuzzy refers to a form of graphene that has a rough or irregular surface with a porous and three-dimensional (3D) structure, as opposed to smooth or flat layers, with enhanced properties like surface area, reactivity or adhesion to a silicon molecule, or substrate.

Read the full story Posted: Jul 19,2024

Haydale Graphene Industries and Staircraft report progress on graphene-based underfloor heating trials

Specialist structural flooring manufacturers Staircraft have been testing the use of Haydale's graphene-based functional ink for application on their innovative chipboard flooring system. Significant investment has reportedly been made to get the new flooring system to adopt a heating solution that is cost effective and easy to install.

In a recent trial, Staircraft has reported very encouraging results and is now focused on continuing to collect definitive data before introducing the concept to their customer base. 

Read the full story Posted: Jul 13,2024

Indian government finances graphene-based e-textile project

As part of an effort to promote self-reliance, the Indian government's Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has granted seven new projects to private MSMEs and start-ups in the defense industry, under the Technology Development Fund scheme. 

One of these projects aims to develop graphene-Based smart & e-textiles for multifunctional wearable applications. Alohatech has been granted funding for this project, which will focus on developing conductive yarn and fabric-making processes using graphene nanomaterials and conductive inks. 

Read the full story Posted: Jul 12,2024

Researchers use engineered graphene material to improve the performance of intraneural peripheral nerve electrodes

Limb neuroprostheses aim to restore motor and sensory functions in amputated or severely nerve-injured patients. These devices use neural interfaces to record and stimulate nerve action potentials, creating a bidirectional connection with the nervous system. Most neural interfaces are based on standard metal microelectrodes. 

Left: a histological section of the nerve implanted with an electrode longitudinally. Right, an image of the sciatic nerve with an EGNITE electrode implanted transversely to allow stimulation and recording of nerve impulses. Image credit: UAB

Researchers at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and ICN2 have demonstrated in animal models how Engineered Graphene for Neural Interface (EGNITE), a derivative of graphene, allows the creation of smaller electrodes, which can interact more selectively with the nerves they stimulate, thus improving the efficacy of the prostheses. The study also demonstrated that EGNITE is biocompatible, showing that its implantation is safe.

Read the full story Posted: Jul 12,2024

Premier Graphene ships graphene suspension samples to unnamed "global leader" for potential use in concrete

Premier Graphene has announced that it has shipped proprietary graphene suspension test samples by HGI Industrial Technologies, a company with a strategic agreement with Premier Graphene, to one of the largest essential materials companies in the world for use in concrete. This materials company is adding graphene samples to concrete to confirm the improved qualities of this concrete as measured by HGI’s in-house tests. 

Premier Graphene stated that with almost 8,000 employees, with a dominant distribution system in North America including almost 800 operating locations, this worldwide leader in the aggregate and cement business presents an extraordinary opportunity for it and HGI. With over a century of operational expertise and a public market value exceeding $50 billion USD, Premier Graphene’s potential partner leads North America in sustainable construction materials, road contracting, and building products sales.

Read the full story Posted: Jul 09,2024

Researchers design graphene-based infrared emitter for integrated photonic gas sensors

Researchers at AMO GmbH, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Senseair AB and the University of Bundeswehr have developed a waveguide-integrated incandescent thermal mid-infrared emitter using graphene as the active material. This innovative approach is said to significantly enhance the efficiency, compactness, and reliability of gas sensor systems, paving the way for widespread applications across various industries.

Many applications require robust, real-time air quality monitoring solutions, driving the demand for distributed, networked, and compact gas sensors. Traditional gas sensing methods, including catalytic beads and semiconducting metal oxide sensors, suffer from performance degradation, frequent calibration needs, and limited sensor lifetimes due to their reliance on chemical reactions. Absorption spectroscopy offers a promising alternative by utilizing the fundamental absorption lines of several gases in the mid infrared (mid-IR) region, including greenhouse gases. This method provides high specificity, minimal drift, and long-term stability without chemically altering the sensor. The ability to “fingerprint” gases through characteristic absorption wavelengths, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) at 4.2 μm, makes it a promising technology for precise gas detection.

Read the full story Posted: Jul 07,2024

Researchers develop a 2D device for quantum cooling

Researchers at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland and National Institute for Materials Science in Japan have combined the electrical properties of graphene with the semiconducting characteristics of indium selenide in a field-effect geometry, to create a device that can efficiently convert heat into electrical voltage at temperatures lower than that of outer space. The innovation could help overcome a significant obstacle to the advancement of quantum computing technologies, which require extremely low temperatures to function optimally.

Device schematic representing a fully encapsulated few-layer InSe channel, with graphene electrodes. Image credit: Nature Nanotechnology

To perform quantum computations, quantum bits (qubits) must be cooled down to temperatures in the millikelvin range (close to -273 Celsius), to slow down atomic motion and minimize noise. However, the electronics used to manage these quantum circuits generate heat, which is difficult to remove at such low temperatures. Most current technologies must therefore separate quantum circuits from their electronic components, causing noise and inefficiencies that hinder the realization of larger quantum systems beyond the lab. Now, researchers in EPFL’s Laboratory of Nanoscale Electronics and Structures (LANES), led by Andras Kis, have fabricated a device that not only operates at extremely low temperatures, but does so with efficiency comparable to current technologies at room temperature.

Read the full story Posted: Jul 06,2024

Graphene Composites USA selected to join U.S Military footwear project

Graphene Composites USA (GC) has been selected to participate in a research and development program between DEVCOM Soldier Center, Natick MA and UMass Lowell, to develop materials for the next generation of U.S. military footwear.

The program, SWIFT [Supporting Warfighters through Innovative Footwear Technologies], is offered by the HEROES (Harnessing Emerging Research Opportunities to Empower Soldiers) initiative and will see GC extend its patented GC Composite graphene and aerogel technology to develop ultra-lightweight, durable, insulative materials for use in extreme cold weather.

Read the full story Posted: Jul 05,2024

Researchers develop method to control quantum bound states in superconducting device

Professors Gil-Ho Lee and Gil Young Cho from Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) in South Korea have collaborated with Dr. Kenji Watanabe and Dr. Takashi Taniguchi from National Institute for Materials Science (NIMS) in Japan to successfully control the quantum mechanical properties of Andreev bound states in bilayer graphene-based Josephson junctions using gate voltage. 

Superconductors exhibit zero electrical resistance under specific conditions such as extremely low temperatures or high pressures. When a very thin normal conductor is placed between two superconductors, a supercurrent flows through it due to the proximity effect where superconductivity extends into the normal conductor. This device is known as a Josephson junction. Within the normal conductor, new quantum states called Andreev bound states are formed, which are crucial for mediating the supercurrent flow.

Read the full story Posted: Jul 03,2024

Researchers use graphene to develop a method that visualizes ligands on gold nanoparticles in liquid

Researchers at the University of Antwerp and CIC biomaGUNE have reported a novel method based on graphene, for understanding the role of surface molecules in the formation of nanoparticles. The research provides an advanced characterization tool for the design of nanomaterials.

Gold nanoparticles have been the subject of intense research for several decades due to their interesting applications in fields such as catalysis and medicine. "Surface ligands" are organic molecules typically present on the surface of gold nanoparticles. During synthesis, these surface ligands play an important role in controlling the size and shape of the nanoparticles. For several decades, the CIC biomaGUNE team led by Ikerbasque Research Professor Luis Liz-Marzán has studied the growth mechanisms and properties of these nanoparticles. However, many questions remain about the exact behavior of surface ligands during and after growth. Direct observation of surface ligands and their interface with gold nanoparticles has therefore been a long-standing goal for many scientists in this field.

Read the full story Posted: Jun 30,2024