A new initiative has been established, to explore the development of various applications for graphene, from graphene-infused asphalt and concrete to water filtration systems.
To this end, researchers at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) will be working with top research institutions and experts from the University of Mississippi (UM), Jackson State University (JSU) and Rice University. The collaboration will explore graphene’s unique abilities in uses ranging from advanced materials-by-design to self-sensing infrastructure.
“This new initiative will continue a long legacy of ERDC partnering with academia and industry to advance emerging technologies in support of our warfighters and the nation,” said ERDC Senior Scientific Technical Manager Dr. Robert Moser.
This strategic ERDC partnership provides an incredible opportunity to leverage expertise and state-of- the-art materials research from Rice University’s NanoCarbon Center and the UM Center for Graphene Research and Innovation (CGRI). The CGRI is also working with JSU experts on computational chemistry and synthesis of graphene.
The CGRI executes graphene research and acts as a bridge with the other research universities, particularly within the state of Mississippi, private industry and other government research and development organizations in the region.
“The objective of the project is to strengthen the partnership between the CGRI at UM and ERDC to conduct research in utilizing graphene-based materials and to establish a testing facility at UM that will enrich research capacity in Mississippi, attract industry to the region and enhance collaboration between Mississippi universities, ERDC and broader Army users,” said Ahmed Al-Ostaz, director of CGRI at UM. “We are very excited to the opportunity of collaborating with ERDC researchers on this project and believe that the wide range of engineering applications in both force protection and force projection areas will greatly impact technology and spur innovators to develop new products and processes in areas of national interest."
James Tour and colleagues at Rice University recently discovered a process called flash Joule heating that produces graphene from any carbon source with low energy requirements and without the need for solvents or purification. As part of the initiative, ERDC researchers will advance novel flash graphene technology for many potential application areas.
“The flash process produces an unusual kind of graphene, known as turbostratic graphene, that is far easier to bring to applications than graphene traditionally produced in small amounts in a furnace,” Tour said. “Turbostratic graphene consists of misaligned flakes that are more soluble than the more common, or AB-stacked, graphene, which tends to clump in solution. Turbostratic graphene is much easier to make, and we are learning to produce it in bulk. We’re confident that our ERDC partners will help us push this process to the limit.”
Altogether, this initiative will aim to create a regional hub of innovation in partnership with ERDC for novel research and applications in graphene and other low dimensional materials that could be used to address gaps in advanced materials, composites and manufacturing processes that will contribute to outstanding military performance, sustainment and readiness across many applications.
The extramural research partnership, joining premier academic institutions and ERDC, will benefit the Army in improved force protection and projection capabilities in alignment with the Army’s modernization priorities and priority research areas, along with many spin-off civilian applications ranging from water treatment to resilient infrastructure.