What is a coating?

A coating is a covering that is applied to the surface of an object. The purpose of applying the coating may be decorative, functional, or both. Coatings are ubiquitous and can be found on walls, furniture, on all sorts of wires and printed circuits, the outside of houses and cars, and much more. In addition, the decorative duties of coatings span quite a broad spectrum.

Decorative coatings are mainly used for their color, texture or other visual property. Functional coatings are applied to change the surface properties of the substrate, such as adhesion, wettability, corrosion resistance, wear resistance and more. In some cases, the coating adds an entirely new property such as a magnetic response or electrical conductivity and forms an essential part of the finished product.

Coatings may be used in various processes, that are roughly divided into: vapor deposition, spraying, chemical and electrochemical techniques, roll-to-roll coating processes and other, less prominent techniques.

What is graphene?

Graphene is a two dimensional layer of carbon atoms, arranged in the form of a honeycomb lattice. It is touted as a “miracle material” because it is endowed with an abundance of astonishing traits - this thin, one atom thick substance is the lightest, strongest, thinnest material known to man, as well as the best heat and electricity conductor ever discovered - and the list does not end there. Graphene is the subject of relentless research and is thought to be able to revolutionize whole industries, as researchers work on many different kinds of graphene-based materials - each one with unique qualities and purpose.

Graphene for coatings

The vast selection of extraordinary properties that graphene possesses can open the door to many interesting types of coatings, paints, inks and more. Graphene's high resistivity can make for durable coatings that do not crack and are resistant to water and oil; its excellent electrical and thermal conductivity can be used to make various conductive paints, and a strong barrier effect can contribute to extraordinary anti-oxidant, scratch-resistant and anti-UVA coatings.



Graphene enables a wide array of functional coatings and paints, for many possible applications. Among these can be high performance adhesives enabled by graphene's high adhesion property, anti-bacterial coatings, solar paints (capable of absorbing solar energy and transmitting it), paints that provide isolation for houses, anti-rust coatings, anti-fog paints and UV ray blockers, non-stick coatings for various domestic applications (like frying pans and countertops) and even a much-hyped possibility (currently under scientific examination) of a coating that turns a regular wall into a screen.

Commercial activity

Graphene-enhanced products are yet to reach widespread commercialization. Nonetheless, given graphene’s impressive array of properties and the vigorous R&D that is taking place, graphene-enhanced coatings should not be too far away.

The Sixth Element Materials, a Chinese company that focuses on R&D, mass production and sales of graphene and related materials, showcased its graphene-zinc anti-corrosion primer used for offshore wind power tower, that can come at a competitive price compared with zinc rich epoxy primer.

Garmor, the University of Central Florida spin-off formed to develop a new graphene oxide flakes production process, has developed graphene oxide-based coatings useful for limiting UV radiation damage to sensors and polymers. Garmor's transparent GO-films are reportedly derived from a commercially-viable and scalable process that can be readily implemented with minimal constraints.

Four layers of GO coating on polycarbonateFour layers of GO coating on polycarbonate

The Spain-based Graphenano announced the launch of a graphene-based series of paints and coatings called Graphenstone in 2014. These are said to be very strong and also acts as a protective layer against environmental damage. Graphenstone is made from a graphene powder and limestone powder.

The British Electro Conductive Products released a sprayable transparent conductive coating based on a CNT and graphene platelets (GNP) hybrid material. TBA are targeting the food, electronics, pharmaceuticals and petrochemicals markets.The new ATEX-compliant product is available as a clear, anti-static aerosol, and it should also be available as bulk paint. Its application will safeguard electronic equipment used in explosive environments and bring it up to European standards.

Further reading

Latest Graphene coating news

Tackling graphene oxide's flammability issue may open the door to various applications

May 21, 2017

Researchers from the University of Arkansas have tackled the issue of graphene oxide's flammability; The team explains that scaling up the production of graphene-based materials is often problematic and dangerous due to GO's tendency to become explosive once airborne, so solving this problem may prove important.

In their work, the team established a relatively simple method to cross-link GO with Al3+ cations, in one step, into a freestanding flexible membrane. This membrane resists in-air burning on an open flame, at which non-cross-linked GO was burnt out within ∼5 s. With the improved thermal and water stabilities, the cross-linked GO film can help advance high-temperature fuel cells, electronic packaging, etc.

IBM researchers use graphene to stimulate the body's immune response

May 17, 2017

IBM recently announced that its researchers have identified a new way to trigger the body's immune response by using polymer-coated graphene sheets.

IBM uses graphene to boost the immune system image

In some medical treatments, it is crucial to target specific places in the body; To that end, scientists have developed techniques where drug molecules are attached directly to the surface of a nanomaterial, such as graphene sheets. Combining the nanomaterial and the drug molecules, these "nanotherapies" could help clinicians treat tumors, for example, by transporting the drugs directly to the tumors, where they can be released onto the cancer cells to help fight the disease.

Graphene Handbook

China-based company completes biomass graphene production line

May 11, 2017

The China-based Shandong Longju New Materials Technology announced that it has completed the installation and commissioning of a pilot biomass graphene production line and has put it into operation.

According to the reports, the facility uses corncob waste to make few-layer biomass graphene (citing Ningbo Institute of Materials Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences' test results). The production line’s annual capacity is said to be five tons and is expected to increase to 300 tons.

G3 and Lanka Graphite enter agreement to develop graphene-enhanced products

Apr 19, 2017

Global Graphene Group (G3), a holding company for subsidiaries like Angstron Materials, has signed Heads of Agreement with Lanka Graphite, a graphite exploration company. The joint venture entity (LGR 50%, G3 50%) will develop a range of commercial graphene projects.

G3 is reportedly scaling a broad range of commercial platforms of graphene applications in several , areas like energy storage, coatings, and thermal management. Lanka Graphite will supply vein graphite product into the joint venture in addition to assisting with sourcing investment, marketing and administration. G3 proposes to supply its experience in developing IP and research grants, commercialization planning and manufacturing infrastructure.

A graphene-based coating changes color upon deformation warns of cracks in buildings and bridges

Apr 06, 2017

Researchers at the Germany-based Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research have developed a structurally colored coating based on graphene flakes, that changes color depending on deformation of the colored surface. Inspired by natural iridescence in fish skin, this coating could provide a simple way to warn of hidden damage in buildings, bridges and other structures.

The team made the coating in an initial red, but when deformed, it appears yellow, and when cracked at the micrometer scale, green. This color-changing ability comes from a careful alignment of the graphene flakes in semi-transparent, parallel layers, coating a glass fibre. Under stress, the layers compress and flatten, changing the interference and color of reflected light. In fact, by overlapping graphene nanoplatelets (GNPs) with ordered and disordered features using a special deposition approach, unique “fish scale” like structures are achieved. Variable structural coloration is observed through the mechanical tuning of fine parallel multilayers.