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.
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.
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.
The latest graphene coating news:
XG Sciences recently announced that it has entered into a memorandum of understanding with Sinochem Plastics and Yuyao PGS New Material Technology (an advanced materials development company focusing on the combination of graphene nanoplatelets and thermoplastic composites) to participate in developing advanced composites in China, based on its xGnP graphene nanoplatelets.
The Agreement strengthens the on-going relationship among the parties through creation of the Graphene Applications Development Center (GADC), a joint venture company between Sinochem Plastics and Yuyao PGS New Material Technology in the Sino-Italy Ningbo Ecological Park in Yuyao City. The parties recently partnered to bring new graphene enhanced anti-corrosion coatings to industrial and marine applications.
Graphene Leaders Canada (GLC) has announced that it has been awarded $350,000 CAD (around $261,000 USD) grant funding for a joint project under the National Research Council – United Kingdom (UK) Research Institute (NRC-UKRI) Research and Innovation Program. This funding will support GLC’s “Scaling of Graphene Oxide” towards the development of GLC’s Environmental platform of products.
“This project will support scale up activities of graphene oxide with a focus on developing a cost effective, scalable production method aimed at commercializing our environmental platform of products for air and water treatment,” said Dr. Leah Coumont, GLC’s Director of R&D.
Versarien recently updated that it partnered with BP Polymers to develop a new version of BP's barrier resin, Kortrax, incorporating Versarien's graphene.
Kortrax is a polyamide-based barrier resin which improves both the chemical permeability performance profile and the oxygen transfer rate of resin containers, the company explained.
Znshine Solar, a Chinese solar module manufacturer, has announced signing a 100MW graphene-enhanced solar module supply agreement with UAE's Etihad Energy services as a result of Znshine's participation in the tender launched by DEWA (Dubai Electricity and Water Authority) in January.
CEO of Etihad Energy Services, Mr. Ali Mohammed Al Jassim, explained that the modules will be used in various projects as part of Shams Dubai, the leading initiative that supports the vision of the government to make Dubai one of the most sustainable cities in the world; it also supports diversifying the energy mix by promoting the use of clean and renewable energy sources to build a sustainable future for the Emirate.
Researchers at MIT have utilized an everyday material - wax- to protect graphene from performance-impairing wrinkles and contaminants. Removing graphene from the substrate it’s grown on and transferring it to a new substrate is known t be challenging. Traditional methods encase the graphene in a polymer that protects against breakage but also introduces defects and particles onto graphene’s surface. These interrupt electrical flow and stifle performance.
The MIT team describes a fabrication technique that applies a wax coating to a graphene sheet and heats it up. Heat causes the wax to expand, which smooths out the graphene to reduce wrinkles. Moreover, the coating can be washed away without leaving behind much residue.