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:
MITO Material Solutions has teamed up with Vartega, developer of recycled carbon-fiber composites, on a new composite material project. The two companies incorporated MITO’s graphene-based materials into carbon fiber reinforced thermoplastics. Vartega incorporated MITO’s liquefied graphene into their Fenix fiber EasyFeed bundle products – now offered as Fenix Fiber+, which supplies excellent performance with recycled materials.
Because carbon fiber manufacturing is an energy intensive process, waste diversion is a big factor in improving its sustainability. Carbon fiber is typically made from polyacrylonitrile (PAN) precursor fiber that has been stretched and heated at high temperatures to first oxidize and then carbonize the material. These high temperatures coupled with PAN fibers traditionally coming from fossil fuels, means that carbon fiber has a considerable carbon footprint. By diverting waste carbon fibers from landfill, Vartega resets the material’s embodied energy to zero. Vartega’s recycled carbon fiber is 95% less energy intensive than virgin carbon fiber.
A trial is underway in 45 social housing groups across the UK that could revolutionize the way we heat our homes, especially those that have long battled with issues like heat leakage and inefficient insulation. A graphene-enhanced infrared wallpaper, developed by NexGen Heating, is being tested in a project targeting social housing and older properties that are notoriously hard to insulate.
By infusing wallpaper with graphene, NexGen Heating has created a product that emits infrared heat, warming objects and people directly in a manner reminiscent of sunlight. This direct form of heating is not only efficient but also customizable to fit the aesthetics of any room, promising an unobtrusive addition to homes. Furthermore, the potential for integration with solar panels and batteries could make this a cornerstone of sustainable living, significantly reducing reliance on fossil fuels. NexGen Heating says infrared can provide greener, cheaper heating when paired with solar panels and batteries.
Researchers at Sweden's Umeå University, Lund University and Denmark's Aarhus University have reported a new way to synthesize graphene oxide, which has significantly fewer defects compared to materials produced by the most common method. To date, graphene oxide of similarly good quality could only be synthesized by using a rather dangerous method involving extremely toxic fuming nitric acid.
Graphene oxide is often used to produce graphene by removing oxygen. However, if there are holes in graphene oxide, there will also be holes after it is converted to graphene. Therefore, the quality of the graphene oxide is very important. Umeå University's Alexandr Talyzin and his research group have now addressed the issue of how to safely make good graphene oxide.
Researchers from the Vietnam Academy of Science and Technology, VNU University of Science, Hanoi University of Science and Technology and the Russian Academy of Sciences have developed a biosensor that uses graphene electrodes modified by zinc oxide nanoparticles to measure Hypoxanthine (HXA), a material that can be used as a marker for the freshness of meat. The team demonstrated the sensor’s efficacy on pork meat.
The freshness of animal meat in the food industry is an essential property determining its quality and safety. With advanced technology capable of preserving food for extended periods of time, meat can be shipped around the globe and so there is a vital need for effective testing of its condition. Despite the technological advances keeping meat fresh for as long as possible, certain aging processes are unavoidable. Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is a molecule produced by breathing and responsible for providing energy to cells. When an animal stops breathing, ATP synthesis also stops, and the existing molecules decompose into acid, diminishing first flavor and then safety. Hypoxanthine (HXA) and xanthine are intermediate steps in this transition. Assessing their prevalence in meat indicates its freshness.
UK-based Graphene Innovations Manchester (GIM) and Space Engine Systems (SES) from Canada have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to collaborate in various areas of SES’s Hello series of Aerospace and Space vehicles, focusing on using graphene for hypersonic applications.
GIM is working on the development and commercialization of advanced graphene-based solutions for composites, particularly in Graphene Space Habitat,
and also Type V hydrogen storage tanks. GIM is the largest Tier 1 partner in the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) at the University of Manchester.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge and the University of Warwick have developed a fully 3D-printed quantum dot/graphene-based aerogel sensor for highly sensitive and real-time recognition of formaldehyde at room temperature. Formaldehyde is a known human carcinogen that is a common indoor air pollutant. However, its real-time and selective recognition from interfering gases has thus far remained challenging, especially for low-power sensors suffering from noise and baseline drift.
The new sensor uses artificial intelligence techniques to detect formaldehyde in real time at concentrations as low as eight parts per billion, far beyond the sensitivity of most indoor air quality sensors.
Researchers from Kyushu University, Nitto Denko Corporation, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Osaka University, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and Samsung Electronics have developed a tape that can be used to stick 2D materials to many different surfaces, in an easy and user-friendly way.
Transfer process of monolayer graphene from Cu(111)/sapphire to a SiO2/Si substrate using the UV tape. Image from Nature Electronics
“Transferring 2D materials is typically a very technical and complex process; the material can easily tear, or become contaminated, which significantly degrades its unique properties,” says lead author, Professor Hiroki Ago of Kyushu University's Global Innovation Center. “Our tape offers a quick and simple alternative, and reduces damage.”
Traditional microelectronic architectures are currently used to power everything from advanced computers to everyday devices. However, scientists are always on the lookout for better technologies. Recently, Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists and their collaborators from Menlo Systems and Sandia National Laboratories, have designed and fabricated asymmetric, nano-sized gold structures on an atomically thin layer of graphene. The gold structures are dubbed “nanoantennas” based on the way they capture and focus light waves, forming optical “hot spots” that excite the electrons within the graphene. Only the graphene electrons very near the hot spots are excited, with the rest of the graphene remaining much less excited.
Illustration of an optoelectronic metasurface consisting of symmetry-broken gold nanoantennas on graphene. Image from Nature
The team adopted a teardrop shape of gold nanoantennas, where the breaking of inversion symmetry defines a directionality along the structure. The hot spots are located only at the sharp tips of the nanoantennas, leading to a pathway on which the excited hot electrons flow with net directionality — a charge current, controllable and tunable at the nanometer scale by exciting different combinations of hot spots.
Researchers from Germany's Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research and China's Southeast University have reported a graphene-based aqueous memristive device with long-term and tunable memory, regulated by reversible voltage-induced interfacial acid-base equilibria enabled by selective proton permeation through the graphene.
Memristive devices, electrical elements whose resistance depends on the history of applied electrical signals, are leading candidates for future data storage and neuromorphic computing. Memristive devices typically rely on solid-state technology, while aqueous memristive devices are crucial for biology-related applications such as next-generation brain-machine interfaces. Recently, nanofluidic devices have been reported in which solvated ion transport exhibits memristive behavior. The challenge associated with these approaches is the complexity of the device fabrication. Realizing memristive behavior in a simple system is highly desirable.
Scientists at the University of California San Diego have developed an ultra-sensitive graphene-based sensor that can detect extraordinarily low concentrations of lead ions in water. The device achieved a record limit of detection of lead down to the femtomolar range, which is said to be a million times more sensitive than previous sensing technologies.
The device in this study consisted of a single layer of graphene mounted on a silicon wafer. The researchers enhanced the sensing capabilities of the graphene layer by attaching a linker molecule to its surface. This linker serves as the anchor for an ion receptor and, ultimately, the lead ions.