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

Graphene coatings to control water evaporation

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Collaborative Innovation Center of Quantum Matter (Beijing), looked at the interactions of water molecules with various graphene-covered surfaces and found that graphene coatings may offer the ability to control the water evaporation process from various surfaces.

Lead author of the study, Dr. Yongfeng Huang from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said: "Water droplet evaporation is a ubiquitous and complicated phenomenon, and plays a pivotal role in nature and industry. Understanding its mechanism at the atomic scale, and controlling evaporation rate rationally is important for applications including heat transfer and body-temperature control. However, it remains a significant challenge". The team's experiments showed that a graphene coating controls water evaporation by suppressing the evaporation rate on hydrophilic surfaces, and accelerating evaporation on hydrophobic ones.

ZNShine Solar to supply graphene-enhanced PV modules to India's BHEL

ZNShine Solar is a maker of PV modules, PV power station and EPC, founded in 1988 in China. In May 2018, ZNShine Solar launched the G12 evolution era series - a 12-busbar graphene module, 5-busbar graphene module and double-glass graphene module. According to reports, the application of ZS's graphene film layer increases light transmission performance of the glass itself. In addition, Znshine Solar's modules are self-cleaning.

ZNShine Solar's graphene coating for solar modules image

Now, reports suggest that ZNShine Solar has won the bid to provide 37.5MW of PV modules to Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL), India's largest power generation equipment manufacturer. The deal makes ZNShine Solar the first overseas module supplier to win a contract with BHEL. According to the contract,10% of the shipment will be graphene-coated solar panel and all deliveries will be made by October.

The Graphene Catalog - find your graphene material here

Researchers find the exact balance in which graphene coatings can promote hydrogen evolution reaction

A collaboration led by the University of Tsukuba has recently optimized an approach to increase the stability of catalysts used in the hydrogen evolution reaction without significantly sacrificing activity. The team found that coating catalyst nanoparticles with an optimal number of layers of graphene raised nanoparticle durability while allowing the nanoparticles to retain their catalytic activity. The study was reported in ACS Energy Letters.

"We optimized the balance between the number of graphene layers coating the nanoparticles and their catalytic activity," study first author Kailong Hu says. "To do this, we had to precisely control the number of graphene layers coating the nanoparticles, which we achieved by carefully regulating the deposition time of graphene on the nanoparticles."

First Graphene signs MoU with Engage Marine to develop graphene-enhanced coatings

First Graphene Limited has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with Engage Marine for the development of graphene-enhanced coatings and ropes for the marine industry. The Company and Engage Marine will work to commercialize the project outcomes with other global marine organizations.

FGR to collaborate with Engage Marine on graphene-enhanced coatings image

Following FGR's commissioning of its Henderson Commercial Graphene Facility, it has been involved with a number of industries that could benefit from the addition of graphene to existing product ranges. Research work has shown graphene can provide significant benefits to the maritime industry in a number of applications. The most obvious application is in anti-fouling paints and coatings, which promise benefits from improved performance and longer life between reapplications; every five years instead of the three-year standard now prevalent.

Surwon Technology to sign filtration products deal

Hong Kong-based advanced materials company Surwon Technology announced that a version of a new membrane coating it has tested in heavy-duty desalination applications could soon be part of new water filtration products specially-developed for the consumer market.

The ultra-thin, graphene-based coating has reportedly continued to perform well in ongoing controlled tests at various desalination plants on the Chinese mainland and the company says it is convinced the technology can make a substantial contribution to reducing the cost of thermal and reverse osmosis systems.

XFNANO: Graphene and graphene-like materials since 2009XFNANO: Graphene and graphene-like materials since 2009