This month the team at William Blythe saw the launch of the latest addition to the UK's powerhouse in 2D materials advancements with the new graphene characterisation service. Created by the National Physics Laboratory (NPL) and the National Graphene Insitute (NGI), this service aims to act as a key link between research and industrialisation by providing an independent and trusted analytical service by two of the world leading institutes in graphene metrology. Hosted at the House of Commons, the prestige of this event further supports the importance that graphene will play in the development of solutions to global challenges in the future. On display were graphene containing products demonstrating its wide applicability into industry including composites for lightweight aircrafts, energy storage devices for automotive electrification and even energy saving lightbulbs.Whilst it is very positive that graphene is beginning to enter the market at such an early stage since it’s discovery, the variability of graphene materials should always be considered when planning a research program. Many physical and chemical properties such as lateral sheet size, oxygen content and number of layers can have a large influence on the unique properties of graphene, such as its electronic conductivity and strength. Techniques like AFM, XPS and Raman spectroscopy are key in probing these parameters, and it’s these that are expected to be included within the service. When amalgamated, this data can then be used to determine whether a certain graphene material is suited for a specific application, for example a highly pure and pristine graphene can be crucial for electronic applications. The Graphene Characterisation Service is expected to be a first point of contact for the independent verification of the characteristics for a commercial graphene material, and more can be found out by following visiting NPL's website. If you’d like to explore which type of graphene is favourable for your application, then please do get in touch.
William Blythe are continually investing in their R&D portfolio, focusing on innovations which will bring step-change benefits to their customers. One exciting area of research currently underway at William Blythe is in the Energy Storage sector. As the industry targets higher performing batteries, the requirements of materials used in batteries also increases.
With so much academic research taking place on 2D materials in energy storage applications, William Blythe's graphene oxide will of course play a key role in the energy storage programme we are undertaking at the moment.
Silicon Valley - the birthplace of tech superpowers Apple and Google, an innovation hub where the worlds elite software developers, accountants, designers and investors are localised, seeking out collaboration to create the next big App or device. It is this type of environment that James Baker, CEO of the £60m Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC), is aiming to establish in Manchester for the next generation of graphene and advanced materials-based products.
Graphene is a 2D hexagonal array of carbon atoms that is the strongest and thinnest material known to man. It was first isolated at the University of Manchester in 2004 by Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, who were awarded a noble prize for their work with the material six years later. Now in 2018, graphene has become one of the most researched substances in modern science. Graphene’s unique set of record breaking properties opens a landscape of potential applications spanning from biomedical, membrane technologies, polymer composites and in energy storage devices, to name a few.
To accelerate the development of these applications, the University of Manchester constructed a centre dedicated to graphene research, the National Graphene Institute. Already we’re seeing start-ups sprouting from this environment, such as the award winning Eksagon Ltd, who are focussing on utilising graphene in clean energy applications. The GEIC is the next step in the scale up of graphene and 2D materials, with pilot plant facilities for composites, inks, membranes and energy storage applications. Alongside this, events will be hosted that bring together north west based companies to engage with these new disruptive technologies and help establish supply chains within the area. ‘Graphene City’ has already attracted hundreds of academics to the city to work on advanced materials, but it is expected that the industrialisation of these materials will help create many more jobs for locals in the north west. It may be bold to claim that the rise of graphene has sparked the next industrial revolution in Manchester, however it is already clear that this science is making waves throughout the city and will continue to do so in years to come. If you would like to find out more about graphene, please do get in touch.
Many people see the development of ‘smart homes’ as the advancement of technology that can be controlled via your phone or other smart devices, however less attention is given to safety devices around the house. There has been significant research into incorporating graphene oxide in smart homes in applications from the internet of things to smart-curtains, but not as much has been found to improve upon household safety. There has been some investigations into graphene oxide as a smoke suppressant however. Researchers at the Shanghai Institute of Ceramics have recently developed a multi-purpose wallpaper that is simultaneously fireproof as well as containing built in fire detection systems using graphene oxide. In traditional homes, wallpaper is flammable and aids the spread of fires around the room, therefore there is an inherent need to minimise this risk. Previous attempts at creating flame retardant wallpapers have been somewhat effective, but the development has been hindered due to toxicity and environmental concerns.
Hydroxyapatite (Ca10(OH)2(PO4)6) nanowires have been utilised as a flame-retardant paper. Graphene oxide ‘ink’ is then used as a thermosensitive sensor, and acts as the wiring in a normal circuit connected to a lamp as well as a buzzer. In its normal form graphene oxide acts as an insulating material, but once exposed to high temperatures (such as a fire) the material is reduced with rapid deoxygenation and becomes electrically conductive and completes the circuit to alight the alarm lamp and sound the buzzer.
The range of graphene materials in current research in academic groups around the world highlights the effect that they will have on day to day applications in the near future. If you have any enquiries about the applications of graphene oxide or how it can improve your existing applications, please get in touch and one of the GOGraphene team will be happy to help.
Scientific Reports, 2018, 8, 3687
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The Internet of Things, often referred to as IoT, refers to a network of physical devices which are able to communicate data. These devices can include cars, appliances, heating, lighting and security systems. In order to work, these devices need to be equipped with software, electronics and sensors, they also need to work with the internet infrastructure that already exists. Consumer IoT devices are already on the market in the shape of smart home appliances such as Hive Active Heating and The Amazon Echo, however the vision for the IoT stretches into the connectivity of trillions of devices - a vision that can only be realised through further innovation and research of all aspects required by the IoT.
A recent paper published in Scientific Reports demonstrates the potential for graphene oxide in wireless humidity sensing. The group investigated the relative dielectric permittivity of graphene oxide under various humidity conditions at GHz, showing that increased humidity leads to an increase in the permittivity. This is a result of higher humidity leading to a greater uptake of water. By printing a graphene antenna with the graphene oxide layer, the researchers were then able to create a battery free and wireless radio-frequency identification (RFID) humidity sensor. As the device is sensitive to its surrounding humidity, it could be used as a low-cost local humidity sensor in IoT applications.
This research serves as another great example of how graphene oxide has the potential to enable a diverse range of innovations and applications. The graphene oxide supplied through GOgraphene is being used in both academic and industrial research in many sectors. If you are interested in using graphene oxide in your research, please let us know and a member of the team will be happy to help you.
Scientific Reports, 2018, 8, 43