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    Exploring the Anti-Corrosive Properties of Graphene Oxide

    Exploring the Anti-Corrosive Properties of Graphene Oxide

    Anti-corrosion coatings have become increasingly more important in the developing world, with industrial equipment requiring protection from corrosive mediums such moisture, industrial chemicals or abrasion. With the global market now valued at $24 billion and expected to reach $36 billion by 2024, new technologies are under research with greater anti-corrosion properties. Considering it’s the strongest material known to man, it’s no surprise that graphene falls within this umbrella of research.

    One of the first papers that explored a scalable route to anti-corrosion graphene coatings was produced by researchers at the University of Manchester, who utilised graphene oxide as an inert barrier. The hexagonal array of carbon atoms in graphene oxide act as a very effective barrier in water purification applications, with the oxygen functionalities providing defects and pathways for only the diffusion of water and small ions such as chlorides. In this research, graphene oxide was chemically reduced to restore the pristine graphene lattice. This coating was now impermeable to small ions as well as water, allowing it to be an effective anti-corrosion barrier for moisture and sea salt. The chemical inertness of graphene also gave this coating very high chemical corrosion resistance, proven in this research by exposing the surface to nitric, hydrochloric and even hydrofluoric acids whilst showing zero degradation.

    In the same year, the anti-bacterial properties of graphene oxide were demonstrated in a biomedical application as a nanopaint for protection against bacteria to reduce incidences of heathcare-associated infection. Graphene oxide was incorporated into the paint through a simple balling milling technique, which was then coated onto substrates before subjecting to incubation with E.coli, P. aeruginosa and S. aureus. After 48 hours, the graphene oxide paint reduced the populations of these bacteria by 94, 88 and 85%, respectively, demonstrating its effectiveness as an antibacterial coating. These are just two of the many studies understanding the versability of graphene in coating applications, and if you’d like to find out more about this research topic, please do get in touch.

    Nature Communications, 2014, 5, 4843, 1-5

    Carbon, 2014, 72, 328-337

    Measuring the Flake Size of GO

    Measuring the Flake Size of GO

    Measuring the lateral dimensions of a graphene oxide flake can be done through a variety of techniques, including SEM, TEM and AFM. All of these techniques are frequently employed by the graphene community as flake size is known to be a key performance affecting parameter in a number of applications. The problem with these more "traditional" techniques is that to collect a data set with sufficient statistical significance it takes several hours, often days. 

    As William Blythe has been moving through the scale up program for graphene oxide, the development of an analytical test method which can be used to obtain an overview of the flake sizes within a sample has become increasingly important. Building upon existing expertise within the team, and seeking advice from external experts when needed, William Blythe have now developed a method using a Malvern Mastersizer 3000. The method developed shows good correlation with data observed through microscopy and results are obtained within minutes. For the team at William Blythe, this represents a huge milestone, with work on developing a range of graphene oxide products with varying lateral dimension distributions is now underway. While this method does not allow data to be collected on individual flakes, the resulting data on the particle size distribution is sufficient for seeing trends in data when manipulating lateral dimensions. The method is also ideally suited for use in Quality Control to ensure the product meets specification.

    For more information on any aspect of the graphene oxide program at William Blythe, please get in touch and a member of the team would be happy to help.




    New Metrology Service to Advance the Commercialisation of Graphene

    New Metrology Service to Advance the Commercialisation of Graphene

    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.

    Material Challenges of Next Generation Batteries

    Material Challenges of Next Generation Batteries

    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.

    More information on our energy storage programme can be found on the William Blythe website, please get in touch if you have any questions.

    Graphene City: Manchester’s Silicon Valley of Science

    Graphene City: Manchester’s Silicon Valley of Science

    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.