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-wrapped nanocrystals may open door toward next-gen fuel cells

Sep 18, 2017

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have developed a mix of metal nanocrystals wrapped in graphene that may open the door to the creation of a new type of fuel cell by enabling enhanced hydrogen storage properties.

Graphene-Wrapped Nanocrystals Make Inroads Toward Next-Gen Fuel Cellsultrathin oxide layer (oxygen atoms shown in red) coating graphene-wrapped magnesium nanoparticles (orange) still allows in hydrogen atoms (blue) for hydrogen storage applications

The team studied how graphene can be used as both selective shielding, as well as a performance increasing factor in terms of hydrogen storage. The study drew upon a range of Lab expertise and capabilities to synthesize and coat the magnesium crystals, which measure only 3-4 nanometers (billionths of a meter) across; study their nanoscale chemical composition with X-rays; and develop computer simulations and supporting theories to better understand how the crystals and their carbon coating function together.

Spray-on graphene-based coating for improved desalination membranes

Sep 13, 2017

An international group of researchers, including scientists from Shinshu University in Japan and Penn State’s ATOMIC Center, created a graphene and graphene oxide-based coating for desalination membranes which are said to be more scalable and sturdier than current nanofiltration membrane technologies available.

The result of this creation would hopefully be a filter for clean water solutions, protein separation, wastewater treatment, as well as pharmaceutical and food industry applications. This membrane uses a simple spray-on technology to coat a mixture of graphene oxide and graphene in solution onto a backbone support membrane of polysulfone that is modified with polyvinyl alcohol. The team reports that even in the early stages of the development of the membrane, it can already reject 85% of salt, which is sufficient for agricultural purposes, and 96% of dye molecules.

Graphene for the Display and Lighting Industries

Talga Resources' CEO: 2017 will be a turning point for graphene commercialization

Sep 12, 2017

Mark Thompson, Talga Australia-based technology minerals company, Talga Resources, is actively developing graphene materials and graphene-based applications across many areas, including coatings, batteries, construction materials, composites and more.

Mark Thompson, Talga's managing director, was kind enough to update us on Talga's graphene program and answer a few questions we had.

Q: Thank you for this interview, Mark. Can you quickly update us on your graphite mine operation in Sweden?

Talga has over 20 years of graphite mining potential outlined in economic studies to date and currently extracts intermittently what it needs for scale up and testing purposes. Talga mined approximately 5,000 tonnes of graphite ore during 2015-16 trial mining operations. Further extraction is not required for now but permitting for the future larger scale operations is underway.

Swinburne University and IIM announce graphene smart composites project

Sep 11, 2017

Imagine Intelligent Materials and Swinburne University have announced a collaborative six-month project aiming to develop graphene-reinforced smart composites. The composite will be able to report on the condition of large structures, and will have major commercial potential in the transport sector, including automotive and aerospace.

The project is supported by a $20,000 Seed grant from the university under a program, targeting “interdisciplinary projects that are aligned with the Swinburne research institutes’ external partnership and collaboration objectives”. It will combine expertise from experts in sensors, electronics engineering and aerospace manufacturing at the university.

Graphene-ceramic composite with impressive properties may be useful for aerospace, sensors and more

Aug 11, 2017

A collaboration work by Purdue, the Chinese Lanzhou University and Harbin Institute of Technology, and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory has yielded a lightweight, flame-resistant and super-elastic composite shown to combine high strength with electrical conductivity and thermal insulation, suggesting potential applications from buildings to aerospace.

Graphene composite shows impressive properties image

The composite material is made of interconnected cells of graphene sandwiched between ceramic layers. The graphene scaffold, referred to as an aerogel, is chemically bonded with ceramic layers using a process called atomic layer deposition. The team explained that graphene would ordinarily degrade when exposed to high temperature, but the ceramic imparts high heat tolerance and flame-resistance, properties that might be useful as a heat shield for aircraft. The light weight, high-strength and shock-absorbing properties could make the composite a good substrate material for flexible electronic devices. Because it has high electrical conductivity and yet is an excellent thermal insulator, it might be used as a flame-retardant, thermally insulating coating, as well as sensors and devices that convert heat into electricity, said associate professor in the School of Industrial Engineering at Purdue University.