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Light-induced active ion transport in graphene oxide membranes

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Updated: Thursday, March 21, 2019

Nanofluidic channels feature a unique unipolar ionic transport when properly designed and constructed. Recent research in nanofluidics has adopted reconstructed layered two-dimensional (2D) sheets – such as graphene oxide or clay – as a promising material platform for nanofluidics. These membranes contain a high volume fraction of interconnected 2D nanochannels.

Compared to other materials used for nanofluidic devices, such as anodized aluminum oxide membrane, block copolymer membrane and nanofluidic crystals, a unique feature of layered membranes is that the channels are horizontally aligned and the channel height (i.e., the spacing between the layers), which is responsible for confinement of the electrolyte, remains uniform throughout the entire thin film.

"However, mass and charge transport in existing membrane materials follows their concentration gradient," Wei Guo, a professor at the Technical Institute of Physics and Chemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, tells Nanowerk. "Attaining anti-gradient transport as effective as natural counterparts remains a great challenge in fully abiotic nanosystems."

In new work led by Guo, reported in Nature Communications ("Photo-induced ultrafast active ion transport through graphene oxide (GO) membranes"), the researchers demonstrate a coupled photon-electron-ion transport phenomenon through graphene oxide membranes.

It shows a straightforward way on how to power the transport in 2D layered materials using the energy of light.
"Using the energy of light, cations are able to move thermodynamically uphill over a broad range of concentrations, at rates orders of magnitude faster than that via simple diffusion," Guo explains. "Based on this mechanism, we developed photonic ion switches, photonic ion diodes, and photonic ion transistors as the fundamental elements for active ion sieving and artificial photosynthesis on synthetic nanofluidic circuits."

This is the first discovery of photo-induced active (anti-gradient) ion transport in 2D layered materials with extraordinarily high pumping rates. It provides a completely new way for remote, non-invasive, and active control of the transport behaviors in synthetic membrane materials.

"Using light to control the mass and charge transportation in fully synthetic membranes is the dream of a materials scientist, like me," says Guo. "As far as I know, many research groups currently are engaged in this field. However, their findings are restricted to use the light as a gate, allowing or prohibiting the transport. In contrast, we use the light as a motive force to realize active transport."

Upon asymmetric light illumination, a net cationic flow through the layered graphene oxide membrane is generated from the non-illuminated region to the illuminated region. This phenomenon is reported for the first time.



Against a concentration gradient, the pumping rates for cations can be five orders of magnitude higher than that via simple diffusion.

The team established a theoretical model and performed molecular dynamics simulations to unveil the mechanism. Light irradiation reduces the local electric potential on the graphene oxide membrane following a carrier diffusion mechanism. When the illumination is applied to an off-center position, an electric potential difference is built across the GO strip that can drive the transport of ionic species.

Superior to existing molecular transport systems, the light-induced active ion transport reported in this work does not rely on lipid or liquid membranes, which significantly improves its robustness and compatibility. In addition, it does not hinge on specific ion-binding shuttle molecules to achieve the transmembrane ion transport. Thus, its transport range can be at the scale of centimeters.

This work provides a new route for remote, non-invasive, and active control of the transport behaviors in synthetic membrane materials. It demonstrates a way to fabricate innovative membrane materials for active ionic sieving, artificial photosynthesis, and modular computation on integrated nanofluidic circuits.

Following the mechanism proposed in this work, as shown in the figure below, the researchers constructed photonic ion switches (PIS), photonic ion diodes (PID), and photonic ion transistors (PIT) as the fundamental elements for light-controlled nanofluidic circuits.



"So far in our lab, the photo-induced active ion transport systems has been developed to the third generation," notes Guo. "The photo-induced active ion transport phenomenon can be also found in almost the whole family of 2D semiconductors. There is tremendous room to further exploit their unique photo-responsiveness in liquid processable colloidal 2D materials. The present work opens up exciting new possibilities."

"Now, we are trying to amplify the generation of photocurrent and voltage, and scale up the membrane materials with, for example, printing techniques," he concludes. "Also, we intend to further extend the scope of the materials with which the active transport behaviors can take place."

Tags:  2D materials  Beijing  Chinese Academy of Sciences  Graphene  graphene oxide  photonics  Wei Guo 

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New research uses graphene sensors to detect ultralow concentrations of NO2

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, April 10, 2019
The research, as published in ACS Sensors, was led by an international collaboration of scientists from Linköping University, Chalmers University of Technology, Royal Holloway, University of London and the University of Surrey.

The findings demonstrate why single-layer graphene should be used in sensing applications and opens doors to new technology for use in environmental pollution monitoring, new portable monitors and automotive and mobile sensors for a global real-time monitoring network.

As part of the research, graphene-based sensors were tested in conditions resembling the real environment we live in and monitored for their performance. The measurements included, combining NO2, synthetic air, water vapor and traces of other contaminants, all in variable temperatures, to fully replicate the environmental conditions of a working sensor.

Key findings from the research showed that, although the graphene-based sensors can be affected by co-adsorption of NO2 and water on the surface, at about room temperature, their sensitivity to NO2 increased significantly when operated at elevated temperatures, 150 °C. This shows graphene sensitivity to different gases can be tuned by performing measurements at different temperatures.

Testing also revealed a single-layer graphene exhibits two times higher carrier concentration response upon exposure to NO2 than bilayer graphene — demonstrating single-layer graphene as a desirable material for sensing applications.

Christos Melios, a lead scientist on the project from NPL, said: “Evaluating the sensor performance in conditions resembling the real environment is an essential step in the industrialisation process for this technology.

“We need to be able to clarify everything from cross-sensitivity, drift in analysis conditions and recovery times, to potential limitations and energy consumption, if we are to provide confidence and consider usability in industry.”

By developing these very small sensors and placing them in key pollution hotspots, there is a potential to create a next-generation pollution map – which will be able to pinpoint the source of pollution earlier, in unprecedented detail, outlining the chemical breakdown of data in high resolution in a wide variety of climates.

Christos continued: “The use of graphene into these types of gas sensors, when compared to the standard sensors used for air emissions monitoring, allows us to perform measurements of ultra-low sensitivity while employing low cost and low energy consumption sensors. This will be desirable for future technologies to be directly integrated into the Internet of Things.”

NO2 typically enters the environment through the burning of fuel, vehicle emissions, power plants, and off-road equipment. Extreme exposure to NO2 can increase the chances of respiratory infections and asthma. Long-term exposure can cause chronic lung disease and is linked to pollution related death across the world.  

Figures from the European Environment Agency also links NO2 pollution to premature deaths in the UK, with the UK being ranked as having the second highest number of annual deaths in Europe. In 2014, 14,050 deaths in the UK were recorded as being NO2 pollution related, 5,900 of which were recorded in London alone1.

When interacted with water and other chemicals, NO2 can also form into acid rain, which severely damages sensitive ecosystems, such as lakes and forests.

Existing legislation from the European Commission suggests hourly exposure to NO2 concentration should not be exceeded by more than 200 micrograms per cubic metre (µg/m3) or ~106 parts per billion (ppb), and no more than 18 times annually. This translates to an annual mean of 40 mg m3 (~21 ppb) NO2 concentration2

In central London, for example, the average NO2 concentration for 2017 showed concentration levels of NO2 ranged from 34.2 to 44.1 ppb per month, a huge leap from the yearly average.

These figures show there is an urgent need for a low-cost solution to mitigate the impact of NO2 in the air around us. This work could provide the answer to early detection and prevention of these types of pollutants, in line with the government’s Clean Air Strategy.

Further experimentation in this area could see the graphene-based sensors introduced into industry within the next 2–5 years, providing an unprecedented level of understanding of the presence of NO2 in our air.

Tags:  Chalmers University of Technology  Christos Melios  Graphene  Linköping University  National Physical Laboratory  Royal Holloway  Sensors  University of London  University of Surrey 

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Graphene and 2D Materials on Track to Innovative Applications

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The CORDIS Results Pack showcases 12 articles on 6 ambitious cutting-edge EU research projects funded under the EU’s FP7 and Horizon 2020 research programmes relevant to graphene and 2D materials. Of these, seven articles cover different aspects of the Graphene Flagship. 


The Graphene Flagship is the EU’s biggest research initiative and has a budget of EUR 1 billion, representing a new form of joint, coordinated research initiative on an unprecedented scale. Through a combined academic-industrial consortium, the research effort covers the entire value chain, from materials production to components and system integration, aiming to exploit the unique properties of graphene. 

An introduction to graphene outlines work conducted by the Flagship including collaboration with the European Space Agency over the use of graphene in space applications such as light propulsion and thermal management. Researchers also used optoelectronic communication systems to provide fast data for the future. The large-scale production of graphene for commercial market applications involved scaling up manufacturing to industrial scale whilst maintaining consistency high quality and cost efficiency.

Scientists investigated chemical processing and functional applications of graphene and graphene-related materials for engineering new molecular structures with unique properties. Graphene spintronics utilised both electron charge and spin at room temperature to create new possibilities for information processing and storage. Finally the Flagship has investigated the use of graphene for biomedical applications to develop innovative medical devices and sensors for detecting treating and managing nervous system diseases. 

European graphene research doesn’t all fall under the remit of the Flagship and researchers are using other EU funding mechanisms to undertake other projects. GRAPHEALTH produced the next generation of wearable sensors while GRASP applied interactions between graphene and light to quantum computing and biomedicine. GraTA developed tunneling accelerometers for use in machine vibration monitoring. HIGRAPHEN created dense polymer composites for use in optoelectronics and energy storage. PolyGraph (working closely with the Graphene Flagship) studied graphene-reinforced polymers for use in the aeronautics and automobiles sectors.

Tags:  2D materials  Cordis  Graphene  Medical  The Graphene Flagship 

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First Graphene receives R&D refund

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Wednesday, April 10, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, April 2, 2019
First Graphene is pleased to advise it has received a Research and Development refund of over $680,000.

The refund will supplement the Company’s working capital as it advances its graphene commercialisation strategies.

First Graphene is a leading supplier of high-quality, bulk graphene products and is a Tier 1 partner at the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre (GEIC), Manchester, UK.

Tags:  Bulk Graphene Pricing Report  First Graphene  Graphene  Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre 

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Future Ready: The Graphene Innovators

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Saturday, April 6, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, April 2, 2019

When the material graphene, which earned two University of Manchester scientists the Nobel Prize in Physics, exploded onto the research scene in 2004, many thought it was destined to change the world. Bulletproof armour and space elevators, super-antibiotics and rust-proof vehicles were only a few of the imagined applications of graphene, some of which are in development. However, realizing the full impact of the two-dimensional form of carbon carries as much promise as it does challenges.

As people around the globe race to solve the riddle of taking this emerging technology to market, researchers in the lab of McGill Professor Thomas Szkopek had a wave—a sound wave—of inspiration.

Innovation by Example

Szkopek devotes much of his research activity to exploring and exploiting 2D atomic crystals and he is especially curious about graphene. In his Nanoelectronic Devices and Materials lab, he and his students often have impromptu discussions about possible applications for graphene and how they could be developed. “Most of the ideas are bad – but that process is how good ideas get started,” he says. 

Szkopek has always been interested in solving science problems. He looks to his family for the source of his perseverance in the face of challenges. “I inherited a hard work ethic and tolerance for failure. You learn more from your failures than your successes, if you take the time to think about why things failed."

In the lab, he models this determination and inquisitiveness with the goal of fostering innovation—new ideas for problems new or old—and cross-disciplinary solutions. “My job is to allow students to reach their potential and encourage their curiosity. I give students freedom to ask their own questions and pursue their own good ideas. I want to get them out of the mode of being consumers of knowledge and turn them into producers of knowledge.”

He also uses his scientific connections with a diverse network of key players—collaborators from different disciplines, experts in transferring technology from lab to industry, and possible funders—to help students translate and apply new knowledge into practical devices with commercial potential that could benefit society and have a positive impact on people’s daily lives.



As a graduate student at UCLA before arriving at McGill in 2006, Szkopek was encouraged to ask probing physics questions and find practical engineering solutions to difficult problems by his Ph.D. supervisor, electrical engineering professor and physicist Eli Yablonovitch. Szkopek’s mentor introduced a factor that describes light-trapping phenomena, referred to as the “4n2 limit”, which is now used worldwide in almost all commercial solar panels. Yablonovitch was awarded a McGill Honourary Degree in 2018.

“I learned a lot from Eli about trying to reduce problems to their core and asking deep questions about physical limits. I shared an interest in applying physics to technological problems, which is closer to the engineering frontier where things aren’t figured out yet. If you ask good questions, you often find interesting answers. The key is to never lose your curiosity.”

The deep question always at the top of his mind: how to harness the potential of graphene?

A sound idea

During one scientific discussion in the lab, Peter Gaskell, a Ph.D. student who was working with Szkopek on developing lithium-ion batteries made with graphene-treated anodes for electric vehicles, proposed a novel idea about using graphene oxide for an acoustic application: to improve sound quality by using the material in a microphone.

While later sharing a beer with his brother Eric Gaskell, who was doing a Ph.D. in sound engineering at McGill’s Schulich School of Music, Peter floated his idea about graphene and graphene oxide’s mechanical properties and potential application in sound amplification.

Eric, who had worked for Audio Engineering Associates (AEA) in California building ribbon microphones for high-performance studio recording and has been a recording engineer at the Aspen Music Festival, was excited and intrigued. He agreed that graphene oxide might be an ideal material for acoustic membranes in ribbon microphones to enhance sound quality. Its high stiffness could potentially produce better sound with less distortion, while the low-density and lightness could lead to greater energy efficiency.

Peter again pitched the idea to Szkopek and his lab mates. “We couldn’t find any obvious holes in the idea, so we thought it should work,” says Szkopek. The Gaskell brothers proceeded to design, develop and build a graphene oxide membrane for ribbon microphones in his lab.

Szkopek’s initial endorsement and support of the idea, along with access to his lab space, specialized equipment, guidance and expertise in graphene, were invaluable: “Thomas’ enthusiasm for the idea allowed us to take it to the next level,” says Eric.

They successfully created a prototype acoustic membrane for ribbon microphones formed from ultra-thin, flat sheets of graphene oxide-based material, which markedly improved sound quality.

Szkopek encouraged them to explore commercializing the invention.

To start them on their way, Szkopek called Derrick Wong, a Technology Transfer Manager in McGill’s Office of Innovation and Partnerships.

“A key trait for researchers who work with our Office is to be very collaborative, like Thomas”, says Wong. “His personality is to encourage his students to explore and lead, and he provides them with guidance and a skill set.”

Impressed, Wong cautioned that the specific application wasn’t likely to attract funding from investors. “The prototype was cool, but the market for high-end microphones is very limited,” he says.

They discussed other possible applications that could expand the market for graphene oxide membrane technology, including loudspeakers for headphones, a $1.6 billion USD market.

Pivotal prototype funding

The Faculty of Engineering saw the potential of this idea and raised money from donors that enabled Szkopek to develop and pursue it with an Innovation Award for $7,000. “That funding was crucial because it allowed us to hire a summer student to work on developing a prototype for headphones. We didn’t need a million dollars, just thousands,” he says.

Electrical engineering undergraduate Raed Abdo helped devise techniques to form the graphene-based material into cone-shaped loudspeaker membranes for headphones, rather than flat acoustic membranes for microphones.

This turned out to be crucial for attracting investors.
Wong had identified TandemLaunch, a Montreal-based business incubator that specializes in creating start-ups from university research and has strong connections in the consumer electronics and audio industries, as an ideal potential early-stage investor.

He called Tandem and said: “You have to see this prototype.” Four people met with the invention team in Szkopek’s lab and sampled the graphene-based headphones. “They listened and went ‘Wow!’”

Eric would carry the invention forward as an entrepreneur-in-residence, who receives business mentorship, guidance and support in building a technology company. Szkopek would be technical advisor and, as a world-leading graphene scientist, build confidence with investors.

Gaskell joined the incubator in 2016, where he assembled a co-founding team for Ora Graphene Audio, which includes business lead Ari Pinkas and materials lead Sergii Tutashkonko. The start-up received seed funding to develop and commercialize the technology, along with valuable mentoring and infrastructure support. To date, Ora has raised $1 million through Kickstarter and is working closely with several of the biggest consumer electronics brands to develop graphene-based loudspeakers for the audio industry and graphene-based micro speakers for laptops, tablets and cell phones.

Pushing biosensing limits

After Ora’s launch, Szkopek turned his sights to another challenge. He and electrical engineering Ph.D. student Ibrahim Fakih began to explore the potential of graphene’s electronic properties to design and develop a large area, graphene-based field effect transistor for high-precision sensing of ions in water.

“I had been wondering,” says Szkopek, “how could you design a graphene transistor to improve performance in sensing things? Is there an advantage to using graphene and how could you realize that advantage?”

“This device improves the minimum pH detection limits by 20 times over current silicon transistor and glass electrode sensors at a much lower cost. Making the transistor physically larger makes it quieter,” explains Szkopek, who worked with Wong to identify a promising application for commercialization.

Fakih, Szkopek and Abdo co-founded UltraSense, a company that aims to improve water quality monitoring with low-cost, graphene-based sensors.

UltraSense won a 2018 McGill Dobson Cup Award for $10,000 and McGill EngInE prize for $5,000. “Water quality is incredibly important, and I’m excited about the local and global possibilities. Imagine a network of sensors continuously feeding data that gives you the levels of contaminants in water and a map in real time,” says Szkopek.

He recently initiated a collaboration with McGill chemical engineering professor Viviane Yargeau, a leading water quality researcher. “We plan to work with her to test how well the technology functions in a real outdoor environment.”

Seeing is believing

The path from curiosity-driven invention to practical, commercial innovation opens the door to dynamic entrepreneurial and employment opportunities for McGill students and graduates who train and do research. Ora inspired more engineering students in Szkopek’s lab to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions.

“Ora was an idea and it turned into a new technology company that employs people. That encourages students to go for it. They see that what they do in the lab can turn into something people use in their daily life,” Szkopek says. “This innovation is all being driven by encouraging students’ curiosity, and by providing the resources and environment so they can develop their ideas. The world is changing and there are now more opportunities for students and graduates to build or contribute to their own start-up companies. The future is in their hands.”

Tags:  2D materials  biosensors  Eli Yablonovitch  Eric Gaskell  Graphene  McGill University  nanomaterials  Peter Gaskell  Thomas Szkopek 

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Graphene and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority in the UK

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Friday, April 5, 2019
Updated: Friday, April 5, 2019

Emerging technologies such as graphene are being investigated by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) in the UK for their potential to improve decommissioning of nuclear sites.

The Challenge

To identify how graphene, an emerging technology, could improve delivery of NDA’s mission.

The Solution

Review the properties of graphene including the latest developments and areas for potential deployment.

Technology Review : Graphene – a form of carbon consisting of a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a hexagonal lattice with unique chemical and physical properties.

Expected Benefits: Raising awareness of new emerging technology across the NDA Group and supply chain.

The NDA published a report on its findings and research over the period of 2016 - 2018: "Graphene and its use in nuclear decommissioning", produced in collaboration with NSG Environmental, the University of Manchester and the National Physical Laboratory

Highlights:

Graphene’s chemical and physical properties are unique:

- one of the thinnest but also strongest materials

- conducts heat better than all other materials

- conducts electricity

- is optically transparent but so dense that it is impermeable to gases

Developments in graphene-based technology have been rapid in a number of areas, including advanced electronics, water filtration and high-strength materials. NDA identified graphene as an emerging technology that could be useful to improve delivery of its mission.

NDA carried out a technology review to compare the properties and potential uses of graphene against the challenges facing the UK in decommissioning its earliest nuclear sites. The opportunities identified included:

  • Advanced materials: Graphene-doped materials could help to immobilise nuclear wastes.
  • Composites incorporating graphene could be used in the construction of stronger buildings or containers for storing nuclear materials.
  • Cleaning up liquid wastes: Graphene-based materials could absorb or filter radioactive elements, helping to clean up spills or existing radioactive wastes.
  • Sensors: Graphene in sensors could improve the detection of radiation or monitor for the signs of corrosion in containers.
  • Batteries: Graphene could produce smaller, longer-lasting batteries that would enable robots to operate for longer in contaminated facilities.

NDA also assessed the potential limitations in graphene’s use to provide a balanced assessment.

The issues identified included:
- cost
- scale-up
- environmental concerns
- lack of standardization
- knowledge regarding radiation tolerance

The report was shared with technical experts across the NDA group, published online and summarised in the Nuclear Institute’s journal: Nuclear Futures. As the technology moves on from early-stage research, NDA and its businesses are continuing to monitor developments, such as the recently opened Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre (GEIC), with the aim of supporting graphene-based technologies and accelerating their uptake within the nuclear decommissioning sector.

NDA is progressing further projects investigating the potential of other emerging technologies. Engagement continues with academia and industry to identify innovations that could improve delivery of the mission.

Tags:  Andre Geim  Batteries  Graphene  Graphite  Konstantin Novoselov  Sensors  University of Manchester 

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First Graphene to Participate in Global Graphene Industrial Events

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Friday, April 5, 2019
Updated: Thursday, April 4, 2019

First Graphene, is pleased to announce it will be attending key industry events in April and May, including the IDTechEx Show in Berlin on 10th and 11th April 2019 and the American Graphene Summit in Washington DC on 21st and 22nd May 2019. Attendance of these conferences is integral to the marketing campaign elevating the Company’s presence and underlining its ability to supply industry with high quality PureGRAPH™ in tonnage volumes. 

First Graphene will showcase their industry-leading range of PureGRAPH™ graphene products and demonstrate the progress made with industrial-scale customers in composite and elastomer applications. 

IDTechEx Show, 10-11 April 2019, Berlin 

Dr Andy Goodwin (Chief Technology Officer) and Paul Ladislaus (Senior Process Engineer) will attend the exhibition. Andy Goodwin will also give a presentation at the conference titled “Delivering the Graphene Revolution”.

First Graphene will provide an update on the characterisation of PureGRAPH™ which confirms the excellent quality of these low defect, high aspect ratio, few layer graphene products and how these technical features enhance the properties of polymer composites. The latest examples of commercially adopted applications will be reviewed together with an update on the regulatory status of the PureGRAPH™ product range. The Company will also display table top examples of graphene adoption in industrial applications. 

The IDTechEx Show covers a number of high-growth emerging technologies, providing insight on the applications and latest technical and market progress of each. 

Craig McGuckin, Managing Director First Graphene Ltd commented “Attending these events is part of our ongoing programme to introduce First Graphene to target markets and in the case of the Graphene Summit to support the global growth of the graphene
industry”.

Tags:  Andy Goodwin  Craig McGuckin  First Graphene  Graphene  Neil Armstrong  Paul Ladislaus 

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Cardea Bio Announces New Partnership with Nanosens Innovations

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Friday, April 5, 2019
Updated: Thursday, April 4, 2019
Cardea Bio, leading manufacturer of commercial-quality graphene digital biosensors, together with Nanosens Innovations, introduces the new CRISPR-Chip which has the potential to detect genetic mutations within minutes. The relationship with Nanosens falls under Cardea's Innovation Partnership Program, which enables Nanosens to build breakthrough science on top of Cardea's IP-protected graphene biosensors.

The co-developed CRISPR-Chip is the first unamplified label-free nucleic acid testing device. Details about its development can be found in the recently published Nature Biomedical Engineering paper, "Detection of Unamplified Target Genes via CRISPR/Cas9 Immobilized on a Graphene Field-Effect Transistor," from the Keck Graduate Institute at Claremont College.

CRISPR-Chip inventor and corresponding author Dr. Kiana Aran explains, "I first considered using CRISPR-Cas9 on a digital biosensor as a DNA search engine while I was at UC Berkeley. At Keck, I attempted to design and develop the biosensors myself, but it was difficult to construct them with the consistency and quality needed for this research. When I understood that a partnership with Cardea was possible, where the company's patented, commercial-grade, high-volume graphene biosensors could be used in place of building my own, it cut months to years out of my research."

CRISPR-Chip is a hand-held device that combines thousands of CRISPR molecules with Cardea's graphene transistor. The device scans though applied DNA to find specific genes or mutations. The transistor is extremely sensitive to electrically charged materials, like DNA. If the specified DNA is found, it binds to the surface, creating an additional charge which is sensed by the device.

"In its current format, CRISPR-Chip can be used to help researchers design better CRISPR complexes for gene editing," continues Dr. Aran. "With CRISPR-Chip, the complexes can be tested faster than ever before."

Tags:  Biosensor  Cardea Bio  DNA  Graphene  Keck Graduate Institute at Claremont College  Kiana Aran  Nanosens Innovations 

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Surwon Technology to Mothball Tire Project

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Thursday, April 4, 2019
Hong Kong-based graphene pioneer, Surwon Technology says it has decided to discontinue its efforts to make a commercially-available graphene-enhanced road-legal tire blaming its decision on what it called the “prohibitive” price level it would sell for if launched.

The project’s termination comes weeks after the company revealed that, in a heavily-tested configuration, a road tire sized for a typical high performance sports saloon would potentially retail at more than US$1,900. At the time, the company said a lower concentration of the graphene compound that had performed so well in testing would reduce the price point but also, potentially, have an adverse effect on the tire’s performance.

Surwon Technology’s Chief Technology Officer said the company could not rule out revisiting the project at some point in the future but for the time being, it would focus on other matters.

“For a time there, it was even more exciting than usual here at Surwon Technology. The testing of the race variant was phenomenal and, while we learned so much, we just weren’t able to make the transition to a viable road tire that didn’t cost the earth,” he said.

“We’ll close this chapter but there is every chance that, at some point down the road, we’ll be able to reopen the book and give it the ending it so thoroughly deserves,” he concluded.

Surwon Technology’s CTO reiterated that the intellectual property associated with the graphene/rubber compound is not up for sale at this time but he said it was unlikely the company would rule out a sale if an appropriate offer was made.

Tags:  Graphene  Surwon Technology  Tires 

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ISO Publishes Standard on Matrix of Properties and Measurement Techniques for Graphene and Related 2D Materials

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Tuesday, April 2, 2019
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has published standard ISO/TR 19733:2019, “Nanotechnologies — Matrix of properties and measurement techniques for graphene and related two-dimensional (2D) materials.”  ISO states that since graphene was discovered in 2004, it has become one of the most attractive materials in application research and device industry due to its supreme material properties such as mechanical strength, stiffness and elasticity, high electrical and thermal conductivity, and optical transparency.  

According to ISO, it is expected that applications of graphene could replace many of the current device development technology in flexible touch panel, organic light emitting diode (OLED), solar cell, supercapacitor, and electromagnetic shielding.  To gain deeper understanding of the material properties and to find ways to mass produce with fine quality, universities, research institutes, and laboratories are researching graphene and similarly related 2D materials.  

To lead these revolutionary materials to full commercialization, however, it is essentially demanded that characterization and measurement techniques for important material properties need to be standardized and globally recognized. In the standard, characterization and measurement techniques for particular properties of graphene and related 2D materials that need to be standardized are organized in a form of a matrix.  ISO suggests that the matrix could serve as an initial guide for developing the necessary international standards in characterization and measurements of graphene and related 2D materials.

Tags:  2D materials  Graphene 

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Exploring the Graphene Flagship through the eyes of a Nobel Prize winner

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Tuesday, April 2, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Talking with SciTech Europa, Professor Novoselov, who was co-awarded the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics, for the discovery and isolation of a single atomic layer of carbon for the first time, explores the research into Graphene Flagship and other 2D materials.

At the University of Manchester, UK, in 2004, Professor Sir Kostya Novoselov, along with his colleague Professor Sir Andre Geim, discovered and isolated a single atomic layer of carbon for the first time. The pair received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 in recognition of their breakthrough.

On 28 January 2013, the European Commission announced that, out of the six pilot preparatory actions put forwards for the Future and Emerging Technology (FET) Flagships competition, the Graphene Flagship, along with the Human Brain Project, had been selected to receive €1bn in funding over the course of a decade, tasking it with bringing together academic and industrial researchers to take graphene from the realm of academic laboratories into European society, thereby generating economic growth, new jobs, and new opportunities.

In February, SciTech Europa attended the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. This event is the world’s largest exhibition for the mobile industry, and where, for the fourth consecutive year, the Graphene Flagship hosted its Graphene Pavilion – this year showcasing over 20 different graphene-based working prototypes and devices that will transform future telecommunications.

At the pavilion, SEQ met with Professor Novoselov to discuss research into graphene and other two dimensional materials, as well as how the Flagship is working to bolster both fundamental research and applications stemming from these advanced materials.

Q. What do you think have been the biggest, and latest, developments in graphene (and other 2D materials) research?

There has been a lot of progress in recent years and, indeed, we are no longer talking only about graphene, but also about many other two dimensional materials as well.

First of all – new applications of graphene is one example of recent developments – we see new applications emerging on an almost monthly basis. Second, there is still a lot of progress being made in fundamental research on graphene and 2D materials. And those fundamental results are being implemented in applications.

In terms of other new 2D materials, there is a lot of activity on ferromagnetic materials.

Q. What potential is there now to move graphene forwards, and how would you describe the role of the Flagship in this?

The basic technology is in place, and so what is important now is for entrepreneurs and SMEs to convert those developments into commercial applications, and, indeed, we need to help them to do so.

The Flagship, of course, has now reached the half way stage, and we therefore need to carefully balance the amount of effort we place on applications with the effort we place on the development of fundamental science, which remains crucial.

Nevertheless, we also need to ensure we are helping companies and industry to introduce this material into real products, and that is actually much more difficult, not least because of the fact that this has not been done at this scale before, and so nobody knows how to do it yet.

Q. Are you able to utilise EU instruments to help fund commercialisation activities?

It is not necessarily funding that is a problem in in Europe; the challenge comes more in the form of bringing together scientists, entrepreneurs, and funders in the same room, and it is still not clear how to achieve that. There is thus the argument that we need to work more closely with entrepreneurs and we need to grow those entrepreneurs who are working on advanced materials because this is a much more challenging area than, say, ‘.com’ applications.

Q. What do you feel are the biggest barriers here?

It is perhaps the mentality that exists around risk taking that needs to change. Bringing together entrepreneurs, scientists, the technology and the money around the same table is a challenge and, as I have mentioned, it needs to be understood that bringing new materials, especially nanomaterials, to market is much more challenging than it is to bring, for example, new software to consumers. And, of course, the level of required investment is also much larger. Whether we have enough people in Europe who are ready to take this risk is a good question.

Q. Would you say that Europe is too risk averse when it comes to this type of investment in comparison to, for instance, the USA?

Perhaps; there is certainly a sense that Europe needs to work much harder than the USA or South-East Asia. And the reason for that is not only a lack of those willing to take enhanced risks, but also the level and mobility of the available money and, indeed, how soon financiers expect a return on their investment.

Q. Could 2D materials research spark a ‘revolution’ in real world applications?

I am not sure that we will see a ‘revolution’; the growth in real world applications utilising graphene is, and will continue to be, a gradual introduction. That is not to say, however, that this gradual process won’t speed up a little over time. And it is great to see that, when it comes to graphene, this introduction, although gradual, is already happening much faster than with any other advanced material that we have seen before. The purpose of the Flagship is to help speed up this process.

The Flagship is now investing in research into the safety of graphene. How important is that?
This is an example of the sort of issue where the Flagship should take the initiative, because it is not only about graphene; we need to realise that many new nanomaterials are going to play an increasing role in the everyday lives of people, and we need to be prepared for that.

There are a great many regulations which have to be passed when bringing such advanced materials to market, including health and safety and toxicology regulations, and very often these are not very well defined because, quite simply, we have never been in this situation before. It can also be quite expensive to run the necessary projects to investigate things like toxicology, and so it is important for projects like the Flagship to take the initiative and help businesses to overcome these barriers.

Q. Where are your own research interests going to lie, moving forwards?

I do indeed conduct my own research, and within that graphene is not the largest part. I go beyond graphene and work on many other 2D materials and heterostructures, but it is nevertheless exciting to remember that it was graphene that made all the other materials possible as we work on those heterostructures towards new discoveries.

Tags:  2D materials  Graphene  Graphene Flagship  Kostya Novoselov  University of Manchester 

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Versarien achieves "Verified Graphene Producer" status.

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Monday, April 1, 2019
Updated: Sunday, March 31, 2019

The Graphene Council is pleased to announce that Versarien plc is the first graphene company in the world to successfully complete the Verified Graphene Producer program, an independent, third party verification system that involves a physical inspection of the production facilities, a review of the entire production process, a random sample of product material and rigorous characterization and testing by a first class, international materials laboratory. 

The Verified Graphene Producer program is an important step to bring transparency and clarity to a rapidly changing and opaque market for graphene materials, providing graphene customers with a level of confidence that has not existed before. 

“We are pleased to have worked with the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in the UK, regarded as one of the absolute top facilities for metrology and graphene characterization in the world.
 
They have provided outstanding analytical expertise for the materials testing portion of the program including Raman Spectroscopy, XPS, AFM and SEM testing services.” stated Terrance Barkan CAE, Executive Director of The Graphene Council.
 
Andrew Pollard, Science Area Leader of the Surface Technology Group, National Physical Laboratory, said: “In order to develop real-world products that can benefit from the ‘wonder material’, graphene, we first need to fully understand its properties, reliably and reproducibly.
 
 “Whilst international measurement standards are currently being developed, it is critical that material characterisation is performed to the highest possible level.
 
As the UK’s National Measurement Institute (NMI) with a focus on developing the metrology of graphene and related 2D materials, we aim to be an independent third party in the testing of graphene material for companies and associations around the world, such as The Graphene Council.” 
 
Neill Ricketts, CEO of Versarien said: “We are delighted that Versarien is the first graphene producer in the world to successfully complete the Graphene Council’s Verified Graphene Producer programme.”
 
“This is a huge validation of our technology and will enable our partners and potential customers to have confidence that the graphene we produce meets globally accepted standards.”

 

“There are many companies that claim to be graphene producers, but to enjoy the benefits that this material can deliver requires high quality, consistent product to be supplied.  The Verified Producer programme is designed to verify that our production facilities, processes and tested material meet the stringent requirements laid down by The Graphene Council.”

 “I am proud that Versarien has been independently acclaimed as a Verified Graphene Producer and look forward to making further progress with our collaboration partners and numerous other parties that we are in discussions with.”

James Baker CEng FIET, the CEO of Graphene@Manchester (which includes coordinating the efforts of the National Graphene Institute and the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre [GEIC]) stated: “We applaud The Graphene Council for promoting independent third party verification for graphene producers that is supported by world class metrology and characterization services."

"This is an important contribution to the commercialization of graphene as an industrial material and are proud to have The Graphene Council as an Affiliate Member of the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre (GEIC) here in Manchester ”. 

Successful commercialization of graphene materials requires not only the ability to produce graphene to a declared specification but to be able to do so at a commercial scale.

It is nearly impossible for a graphene customer to verify the type of material they are receiving without going through an expensive and time consuming process of having sample materials fully characterized by a laboratory that has the equipment and expertise to test graphene. 

The Verified Graphene Producer program developed by The Graphene Council provides a level of independent inspection and verification that is not available anywhere else. 

If you would like more information about the Verified Graphene Producer program or about other services and benefits provided by The Graphene Council, please contact;

Terrance Barkan CAE

Executive Director, The Graphene Council 

tbarkan@thegraphenecouncil.org  or directly at  +1 202 294 5563

Tags:  Andrew Pollard  Andy Pollard  Graphene  Graphene Standards  James Baker  Manchester  National Physical Laboratory  Neill Ricketts  NPL  Standards  Terrance Barkan  The Graphene Council  University of Manchester  UoM  Verified Graphene Producer  Versarien 

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Talga Anode Outperforms Commercial Li-ion Cells In Electric Vehicle Endurance Test

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Thursday, March 28, 2019
Updated: Thursday, March 28, 2019
Talga Resources, is pleased to announce further results from development of its active graphite anode product for lithium-ion batteries, Talnode™-C.

Talnode-C is currently undergoing full-cell qualification with a range of technical and commercial partners as it progresses through validation processes. In new tests conducted by IV Electrics, formerly known as Italian Volt and manufacturer of the “Lacama” electric motorcycle, Li-ion batteries fabricated with Talnode-C anodes were subjected to benchtop tests designed to replicate extreme real world conditions and ensure high performance of the Lacama battery pack.

One of these tests is named ‘Stelvio’, after the famously steep road through the Italian Alps and simulates driving up a mountain at high speed. This cyclic test checks the ability of a battery to efficiently collect fast charge regenerative current (from braking) after a high-power discharge (acceleration) in low temperature conditions. Results in running time represents battery cell performance before limits in voltage drop or cell temperature force the end of the test.

Results show that Talnode-C containing battery cells outperform the endurance of market leading commercial cells by up to 36%. Furthermore, the tests confirm the fast charge, high power, and low temperature properties of Talnode-C anodes translate well to the full cell-level.

In effect this means that a battery pack manufactured with Talnode-C may need less thermal management and materials, reducing cost and weight, while increasing energy density (and therefore driving range) and safety of the battery pack.

Talga Managing Director, Mr Mark Thompson: “We are delighted that Talga’s Li-ion battery anode material has proven itself again in tests for a premium electric vehicle manufacturer such as IV Electrics and their high performance Lacama. We look forward to further development of our premium range of Li-ion battery products utilising Talga anode material technology and the unique intrinsic properties of our Swedish mineral resources.”

Talga staff will be presenting recently published performance results of TalnodeTM products at the International Battery Seminar in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida on 28 March Australian time.

Tags:  Graphene  Graphite  IV Electrics  Li-ion batteries  Mark Thompson  Talga Resources 

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Biodegradable Graphene

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Degradation of pristine graphene occurs in the human body when interacting with a naturally occurring enzyme found in the lung, announced Graphene Flagship partners; the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), University of Strasbourg, Karolinska Institute and University of Castilla–La Mancha (UCLM).

Graphene based products are being designed to be interfaced with the human body within the Graphene Flagship, including flexible biomedical electronic devices.  If graphene is to be used for such biomedical applications, it should be biodegradable and thus be expelled from the body.

To test how graphene behaves within the body, Alberto Bianco and his team at Graphene Flagship partner CNRS, conducted several tests looking at if and how graphene was broken down with the addition of a common human enzyme. The enzyme in question, myeloperoxidase (MPO), is a peroxide enzyme released by neutrophils, cells that are responsible for the elimination of any foreign bodies or bacteria that enter the body, found in the lungs. If a foreign body or bacteria is detected inside of the body, neutrophils surround it and secrete MPO, thereby destroying the threat. Previous work by Graphene Flagship partners found MPO to successfully biodegrade graphene oxide [Small, 20151; Nanoscale, 20182]. However the structure of non-functionalized graphene was thought to be more degradation resistant.  To test this, Bianco and his team looked at the effects of MPO, ex vivo, on two graphene forms; single- and few-layer.

Bianco explains, "We used two forms of graphene, single- and few-layer, prepared by two different methods in water. They were then taken and put in contact with myeloperoxidase in the presence of hydrogen peroxide. This peroxidase was able to degrade and oxidise them. This was not really expected because we thought that non functionalized graphene was more resistant than graphene oxide."

Rajendra Kurapati, first author on the study, from Graphene Flagship partner CNRS, said, "The results emphasize that highly dispersible graphene could be degraded in the body by the action of neutrophils. This would open the new avenue for developing graphene-based materials."

With successful ex-vivo testing, in-vivo testing is the next stage. Bengt Fadeel, Professor at Graphene Flagship partner Karolinska Institute, "Understanding whether graphene is biodegradable or not is important for biomedical and other applications of this material. The fact that cells of the immune system are capable of handling graphene is very promising."

Prof. Maurizio Prato, leader of Work Package 4, dealing with Health and Environment impact studies,  based at Graphene Flagship Partner University of Trieste, said, "The enzymatic degradation of graphene is a very important topic, because in principle, graphene dispersed in the atmosphere could produce some harm. Instead, if there are microorganisms able to degrade graphene and related materials, the persistence of these materials in our environment will be strongly decreased. These types of studies are needed. What is also needed is to investigate the nature of degradation products. Once graphene is digested by enzymes, it could produce harmful derivatives. We need to know the structure of these derivatives and study their impact on health and environment."

Prof. Andrea C. Ferrari, Science and Technology Officer of the Graphene Flagship, and chair of its management panel added "The report of a successful avenue for graphene biodegradation is a very important step forward to ensure the safe use of this material in applications. The Graphene Flagship has put the investigation of the health and environment effects of graphene at the centre of its programme since the start. These results strengthen our innovation and technology roadmap"

Tags:  Alberto Bianco  Andrea C. Ferrari  French National Centre for Scientific Research  Graphene  Karolinska Institute  Maurizio Prato  Medical  Rajendra Kurapati  The Graphene Flagship  University of Castilla–La Mancha  University of Strasbourg 

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Expanding the Use of Silicon in Batteries, By Preventing Electrodes From Expanding

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Tuesday, March 26, 2019
The latest lithium-ion batteries on the market are likely to extend the charge-to-charge life of phones and electric cars by as much as 40 percent. This leap forward, which comes after more than a decade of incremental improvements, is happening because developers replaced the battery’s graphite anode with one made from silicon. Research from Drexel University and Trinity College in Ireland now suggests that an even greater improvement could be in line if the silicon is fortified with a special type of material called MXene.

This adjustment could extend the life of Li-ion batteries as much as five times, the group recently reported in Nature Communications. It’s possible because of the two-dimensional MXene material’s ability to prevent the silicon anode from expanding to its breaking point during charging — a problem that’s prevented its use for some time.

Silicon anodes are projected to replace graphite anodes in Li-ion batteries with a huge impact on the amount of energy stored,” said Yury Gogotsi, PhD, Distinguished University and Bach Professor in Drexel’s College of Engineering and director of the A.J. Drexel Nanomaterials Institute in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, who was a co-author of the research. “We’ve discovered adding MXene materials to the silicon anodes can stabilize them enough to actually be used in batteries.”

In batteries, charge is held in electrodes — the cathode and anode — and delivered to our devices as ions travel from anode to cathode. The ions return to the anode when the battery is recharged. Battery life has steadily been increased by finding ways to improve the electrodes’ ability to send and receive more ions. Substituting silicon for graphite as the primary material in the Li-ion anode would improve its capacity for taking in ions because each silicon atom can accept up to four lithium ions, while in graphite anodes, six carbon atoms take in just one lithium. But as it charges, silicon also expands — as much as 300 percent — which can cause it to break and the battery to malfunction.

Most solutions to this problem have involved adding carbon materials and polymer binders to create a framework to contain the silicon. The process for doing it, according to Gogotsi, is complex and carbon contributes little to charge storage by the battery.

By contrast, the Drexel and Trinity group’s method mixes silicon powder into a MXene solution to create a hybrid silicon-MXene anode. MXene nanosheets distribute randomly and form a continuous network while wrapping around the silicon particles, thus acting as conductive additive and binder at the same time. It’s the MXene framework that also imposes order on ions as they arrive and prevents the anode from expanding.

“MXenes are the key to helping silicon reach its potential in batteries,” Gogotsi said. “Because MXenes are two-dimensional materials, there is more room for the ions in the anode and they can move more quickly into it — thus improving both capacity and conductivity of the electrode. They also have excellent mechanical strength, so silicon-MXene anodes are also quite durable up to 450 microns thickness.”

MXenes, which were first discovered at Drexel in 2011, are made by chemically etching a layered ceramic material called a MAX phase, to remove a set of chemically-related layers, leaving a stack of two-dimensional flakes. Researchers have produced more than 30 types of MXene to date, each with a slightly different set of properties. The group selected two of them to make the silicon-MXene anodes tested for the paper: titanium carbide and titanium carbonitride. They also tested battery anodes made from graphene-wrapped silicon nanoparticles.

All three anode samples showed higher lithium-ion capacity than current graphite or silicon-carbon anodes used in Li-ion batteries and superior conductivity — on the order of 100 to 1,000 times higher than conventional silicon anodes, when MXene is added.

“The continuous network of MXene nanosheets not only provides sufficient electrical conductivity and free space for accommodating the volume change but also well resolves the mechanical instability of Si,” they write.  “Therefore, the combination of viscous MXene ink and high-capacity Si demonstrated here offers a powerful technique to construct advanced nanostructures with exceptional performance.”

Chuanfang Zhang, PhD, a post-doctoral researcher at Trinity and lead author of the study, also notes that the production of the MXene anodes, by slurry-casting, is easily scalable for mass production of anodes of any size, which means they could make their way into batteries that power just about any of our devices.

“Considering that more than 30 MXenes are already reported, with more predicted to exist, there is certainly much room for further improving the electrochemical performance of battery electrodes by utilizing other materials from the large MXene family,” he said.

Tags:  Batteries  Battery  Chuanfang Zhang  Drexel University  Graphene  Li-ion batteries  Trinity College in Ireland  Yury Gogotsi 

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How is graphene holding up at Warsaw University of Technology?

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Warsaw University of Technology (“WUT”), for more than 10 years, has been involved in extensive research into graphene, its applications and production techniques, in both domestic and international projects (it boasts more than 250 scientific publications in international journals and several patents). As the only institution of higher education in Poland, it is a member of the Graphene Flagship programme, the EU’s biggest ever research initiative. The project work is carried out among others in the cutting-edge Center for Advanced Materials and Technologies (CEZAMAT) and is scheduled to continue until at least March 2022.

The University cooperates with scientific and industrial partners from Sweden, the United Kingdom, Austria and China to further advance the technology of epitaxial graphene on silicon carbide for applications such as 5G technologies. WUT’s PhD students engage in joint research at scientific institutions across Europe, including Cambridge and Madrid.

WUT pursues a number of high-end national projects that focus on research into graphene and new two-dimensional materials: Team-Tech (Foundation for Polish Science), Lider and TechmatStrateg (National Centre for Research and Development), Sonata and Preludium (National Science Centre), Diamentowy Grant (Ministry of Science and Higher Education).

The University has established the Graphene Laboratory (Faculty of Chemistry and Process Engineering) dedicated to the carbon nanomaterial production, characterization and exploration of new applications, e.g. hybrid fluorescent materials or infrared radiation absorbers or even some unusual solutions such as the development of new polyester gelcoats to be used in the construction of new generation yachts, Delphia Nano Solution. It is also a promoter of spin-offs aimed at the transfer of graphene technologies and applications to industry and putting them to use for commercial production. Moreover, numerous businesses collaborate with Warsaw University of Technology in application research under joint projects and bilateral agreements.

The work on graphene at Warsaw University of Technology covers two types of this material: graphene flakes and epitaxial graphene (film). “The University has several processing lines producing graphene flakes with the use of both chemical methods of oxidation and reduction of graphene oxide and the so-called liquid-phase direct exfoliation method. Last year, a new method was launched for the production of graphene flakes which is cheap, green and easily scalable for industry. WUT is now in the process of patenting this new technology,” says Prof. Mariusz Zdrojek, head of the graphene research group at  WUT’s Faculty of Physics.

The University has also launched an epitaxial graphene growth (on copper foil) for the purpose of its own application research. Moreover, it has developed and launched the growth technique of new two-dimensional materials in the graphene family, MXenes. The synthesis of other two-dimensional materials, i.e. molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), using the epitaxial growth method has also been elaborated.

Some of the more exciting graphene applications developed by the Warsaw University of Technology in collaboration with the Polish industry include:

- New generation ultrafast infrared photodetector created in 2015 under the Graf-Tech project. The device, in which graphene plays a key role, is in the pre-implementation phase (Faculty of Physics);

- Electronic nanodevices to be used in high-frequency electronics (for fast detectors, sensors or diodes), a product of the Lider project. Currently, work is underway on the patent application (Faculty of Physics);

- New nanocomposites for electromagnetic radiation protection for cybersecurity, electronics, aerospace and 5G technology. The patent application is pending with the European Patent Office (Faculty of Physics);

- Graphene thermal pastes for electronics as novel materials for heat transfer. Conductive graphene inks and pastes suitable for multi-surface printing technologies (e.g. clothes or banknote printing), where they act as transparent electrodes. Patented technology (Faculty of Mechatronics);

- Membrane technologies for mobile drinking water treatment plants, where use of graphene has improved selectivity. (Faculty of - Material Science and Engineering; Faculty of Chemical and Process Engineering);

- Graphene as an anti-corrosion coating, a product of the GrafTech project as part of the joint effort with a research partner (Faculty of Physics);

- other, i.e. flexible displays, pressure sensors, glucose sensors or amino acid biosensors.

For the past few years WUT’s researchers have been also conducting research into the application of other 2D materials. This  has resulted in creation of the materials’ potential new applications eg in the production of composites for the space and aerospace industries or as an innovative platform for drug delivery, new optoelectronic nanodevices or devices for terahertz electronics applications.

With the appropriate know-how, materials and infrastructure and access to the country’s best specialists,  Warsaw University of Technology remains at the leading edge of the development of technologies and applications for other two-dimensional materials, considered to be of strategic importance to advanced industry sectors.

Tags:  2D materials  Graphene  Graphene Flagship  Mariusz Zdrojek  Warsaw University of Technology 

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Graphene and silk make self-healable electronic tattoos

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, March 26, 2019
Researchers have designed graphene-based e-tattoos designed to act as biosensors. The sensors can collect data relate to human health, such as skin reactions to medication or to assess the degree of exposure to ultraviolet light.

Considerable research has gone into electronic tattoos (or e-tattoos), as part of the emerging field of or epidermal electronics. These are a thin form of wearable electronics, designed to be fitted to the skin. The aim of these lightweight sensors is to collect physiological data through sensors.

The types of applications of the sensors, from Tsinghua University, include assessing exposure to ultraviolet light to the skin (where the e-tattoos function as dosimeters) and for the collection of ‘vital signs’ to assess overall health or reaction to a particular medication (biosensors).

The use of graphene aids the collection of electric signals and it also imparts material properties to the sensors, allowing them to be bent, pressed, and twisted without any loss to sensors functionality.

The new sensors, developed in China, have shown – via as series of tests – good sensitivity to external stimuli like strain, humidity, and temperature. The basis of the sensor is a material matrix composed of a graphene and silk fibroin combination.

The highly flexible e‐tattoos are manufactured by printing a suspension of graphene, calcium ions and silk fibroin. Through this process the graphene flakes distributed in the matrix form an electrically conductive path. The path is highly responsive to environmental changes and it can detect multi-stimuli.

The e‐tattoo is also capable of self-healing. The tests showed how the tattoo heals after damage by water. This occurs due to the reformation of hydrogen and coordination bonds at the point of any fracture. The healing efficiency was demonstrated to be 100 percent and it take place in less than one second.

The researchers are of the view that the e-tattoos can be used as electrocardiograms, for assessing breathing, and for monitoring temperature changes. This means that the e‐tattoo model could be the basis for a new generation of epidermal electronics.

Commenting on the research, chief scientist Yingying Zhang said: “Based on the superior capabilities of our e-tattoos, we believe that such skin-like devices hold great promise for manufacturing cost-effective artificial skins and wearable electronics.”

Tags:  biosensors  Electronics  Graphene  Healthcare  Tsinghua University  Yingying Zhang 

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Andrey Turchanin Elected Partnering Division Leader

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Monday, March 25, 2019
Updated: Thursday, March 21, 2019
Andrey Turchanin from Friedrich Schiller University Jena (Germany) and Yuri Svirko from University of Eastern Finland have been appointed by the Graphene Flagship Executive Board as the new leader and deputy, respectively, of the Graphene Flagship Partnering Division. The vote took place in November and, altogether, 39 Associated Members' representatives voted (43.6%). Andrey Turchanin received 21 votes (53.85%) and Yuri Svirko received 18 votes (46.15%). 

The primary responsibilities of the Graphene Flagship Partnering Division are to improve cooperation through the identification of opportunities for various types of synergies between Core partners, Partnering Projects (PPs) and Associated Members (AMs), and to provide recommendations on the partnering mechanism to the Graphene Flagship management and other relevant stakeholders based on the feedback and direct interactions with the Partnering Division members. They will gather feedback from Partnering Division members on a regular basis on their needs and challenges in engaging in collaborations with the Graphene Flagship. 

Andrey Turchanin is Head of the Laboratory of Applied Physical Chemistry & Molecular Nanotechnology at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena. With broad and long-term experience of more than ten years in graphene and related 2D materials for academic research and industrial applications, he was coordinator of the project "Graphene Nanomembranes from Molecular Monolayers" at the Graphene Flagship Open Call from 2014 to 2016. He was also a member of Work Package Enabling Materials and Work Package Flexible Electronics in the Graphene Flagship Core 1 Project from 2016 to 2018. In the FLAG-ERA Joint Transnational Call 2017, he is coordinator of the H2O ("Heterostructures of 2D Materials and Organic Semiconductor Nanolayers") Partnering Project. 

"The Partnering Projects, with their complementary expertise, bring great added value to the Graphene Flagship´s scientific community enabling new possibilities both in research and in industrial implementation of graphene and related 2D materials," says Turchanin 

Yuri Svirko is a physics prrofessor at the Department of Physics and Mathematics at the University of Eastern Finland (UEF). He was the principal investigator on the UEF team, which was involved in the Graphene Flagship ramp up phase and Core 1, therefore he has experience working both as a partner and as an Associate Member of the Flagship. He is an internationally recognized expert in the field of graphene science, with wide experience in EU and national projects focused on the fabrication of micro and nanoscale optical components, among others. Yuri Svirko is also the principal investigator of the CoExAN Partnering Project "Collective Excitations in Advanced Nanostructures".

The Support of the SCOPE Project to the GF Partnering Division

The SCOPE project, funded by the European Commission, provides support to institutions and researchers involved in Graphene Flagship Partnering Projects (PPs) and Associated Members (AMs) by granting several types of grants to help them integrate with the Graphene Flagship Core projects. Communication of research results is also offered via news articles and dissemination in social media. 

The Graphene Flagship Partnering Division is also supported by the SCOPE travel grants that make the attendance of their members to the governance meetings of the Graphene Flagship posible. Andrey Turchanin is also a member of the SCOPE  Advisory Committee.  

Tags:  2D materials  Andrey Turchanin  Friedrich Schiller University Jena  Graphene  The Graphene Flagship  University of Eastern Finland  Yuri Svirko 

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Graphene@Manchester at The University of Manchester

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Monday, March 25, 2019
Updated: Thursday, March 21, 2019

Graphene@Manchester at The University of Manchester is an on-going programme of activity to ensure that Manchester and the UK play a leading international role in developing the revolutionary potential of graphene.

Graphene@Manchester is creating a critical mass of graphene and 2D materials expertise made up of scientists, manufacturers, engineers, innovators, investors and industrialists to build a thriving knowledge-based economy.   

At the heart the vision is the National Graphene Institute and the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC), multi-million pound facilities with a commitment fostering strong industry-academic collaborations.   

The Graphene Council is a proud founding Affiliate Member of the GEIC, providing access to a word class facility and the graphene experts at the University of Manchester. 

Graphene@Manchester is home to an unrivalled breadth of expertise across 30 academic groups. This expertise gives us the ability to take graphene applications from basic research to finished product.   

Graphene is a disruptive technology; one that could open up new markets and even replace existing technologies or materials. From transport, medicine, electronics, energy, and water filtration, the range of industries where graphene research is making an impact is substantial.   

Graphene has the potential to create the next-generation of electronics currently limited to science fiction. Our facilities provide dedicated equipment to develop and produce inks and formulations for printed and flexible electronics, wearables and coatings.

Tags:  2D materials  coatings  Graphene  University of Manchester 

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Strategic Insight Paper Explores Graphene's Impact

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Monday, March 25, 2019
Updated: Thursday, March 21, 2019
The International Sign Association (ISA)  is marking its 75th anniversary by giving back to the sign, graphics and visual communications industry. A series of white papers will explore future technologies expected to impact the industry.

The first Strategic Insight paper, Nanomaterials: Giant Changes Coming from the Tiniest of Materials, was written by Dexter Johnson, senior science editor/analyst for the Graphene Council. It explores nanomaterials and their potential uses in protective applications, thin-film electronics (i.e. flexible displays and electronics), digital displays, pigments for inks and paper.

"ISA was founded in 1944 by visionaries who wanted to see how they could grow the industry and their businesses," said Lori Anderson, ISA president and CEO. "As we mark the 75th anniversary, it only seems fitting that we honor their legacy by looking forward as well. These Strategic Insight papers, written by leading thinkers from inside and outside our industry, will help companies explore the next iteration of the sign, graphics and visual communications industry in a way that honors our founders."

Tags:  Graphene  International Sign Association  nanomaterials  The Graphene Council 

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Micro and nano materials, including clothing for Olympic athletes

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Monday, March 25, 2019
Updated: Monday, March 25, 2019
A research team of materials engineers and performance scientists at Swansea University has been awarded £1.8 million to develop new products - in areas from the motor industry to packaging and sport - that make use of micro and nano materials based on specialist inks.

One application already being developed is specialist clothing that will be worn by elite British athletes in training and at the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The researchers will be incorporating advanced materials such as graphene into flexible coatings which will be printed and embedded into bespoke garments to enhance the performance of elite athletes.

The purpose of the project is to serve as a pipeline for new ideas, testing to see which of them can work in practice and on a large scale, and then turning them into actual products.

The gap between initial concept and final product is known in manufacturing as the "valley of death" as so many good ideas simply fail to make it. The pipeline will help ensure more of them make it across the valley: off the drawing board and into production.

This project is unique in that it is driven by market requirements. As well as the wearable technology, identified by the English Institute of Sport (EIS), two other areas will be amongst the first to use the pipeline: SMART packaging, with the company Tectonic, and the car industry, with GTS Flexible Materials

The project is a collaboration between two teams in Swansea University's College of Engineering: the Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating (WCPC) led by Professor Tim Claypole and Professor David Gethin, and the Elite and Professional Sport (EPS) research group, namely Dr Neil Bezodis, Professor Liam Kilduff and Dr Camilla Knight.

The WCPC is pioneering ways of using printing with specialist inks as an advanced manufacturing process. Their expertise will be central to the project.

Professor Tim Claypole, Director of the Wales Centre for Printing and Coating, said:

"The WCPC expertise in ink formulation and printing is enabling the creation of a range of advanced products for a wide range of applications that utilise innovative materials".

Sport, which is one of the areas the project covers, has been a test bed for technology before. For example, heart rate monitors and exercise bikes have now become mainstream.

EPS project lead Dr Neil Bezodis underlined the importance of links with partners within the overall project:

"Collaborations between industrial partners which are driven by end users in elite sport are key to ensuring our research has a real impact".

Tags:  Camilla Knight  coatings  David Gethin  Graphene  Liam Kilduff  nanomaterials  Neil Bezodis  sporting goods  Swansea University  Tim Claypole  Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating 

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Talga Anode Achieves Outstanding Freezing Temperature Performance

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Saturday, March 23, 2019
Talga Resources , ispleased to announce outstanding low temperature test results from its engineered graphite anode product for lithium-ion batteries, Talnode™-C.

Development of Talnode-C is accelerating through rigorous commercial validation processes at multiple commercial partner facilities and independent battery institutes in Asia, USA and Europe. In new tests conducted at a leading Japanese battery institute, Li-ion batteries using Talnode-C were subjected to performance tests under a range of temperatures including freezing conditions. Highlights of the test results include:
• Retention of 100% capacity and 100% cycle efficiency at freezing temperature (0°C)
• Out-performance of market leading commercial anode products

In freezing conditions Li-ion batteries usually suffer lower capacity retention and cycling efficiency, causing shorter run time of devices such as laptop computers and mobile phones, or shorter driving range of electric vehicles. Cold temperatures can also cause deposits of lithium metal to form in the battery, causing internal short circuits that can lead to fire in the cell, making low temperature performance a critical technical deliverable for Li-ion batteries1.

Talga Managing Director, Mr Mark Thompson: “These results show Talnode-C has the potential to solve problems that have long challenged Li-ion batteries in cold weather applications, where conventional graphite anodes struggle or fail to perform. This is a further demonstration that Talga’s anode products made from our high grade graphite deposit in Sweden, using wholly owned process and refining technology, have exciting potential in the fast growing Li-ion battery market.”

Moving Forward
Market validation of the TalnodeTM product range, and in particular the flagship Li-ion anode product Talnode-C, continues as Talga works to incorporate the development of its new class of high-performance graphitic carbon anode products into its long-term business strategy.

Advanced testing and validation, including the surface treatment and coating of Talnode-C, progresses across multiple commercial partner facilities and independent battery institutes in Asia, USA and Europe. It is expected that Talnode-C, a fully engineered and formulated active anodeready product to be marketed directly towards Li-ion battery manufacturers, will form the
foundation of a near-term commercialisation opportunity for the Company’s larger scale development of the Vittangi graphite project in Sweden.

Low Temperature Technical Background
Li-ion batteries are widely used at room temperature because of their high specific energy and energy density, long cycle life, low self-discharge, and long shelf life2. When charging a Li-ion battery, the lithium ions inside the battery are soaked up (as in a sponge) by the porous negative electrode (anode), made of graphite.

Under temperatures approaching freezing (0°C) however, the lithium ions aren’t efficiently captured by the anode. Instead, many lithium ions are reduced to lithium metal and coat the surface of the anode, a process called lithium plating, resulting in less lithium available to carry the flow of electricity. Consequently, the battery’s capacity and cycle efficiency drops and this translates to poorer performance3.

In cooler countries of the northern hemisphere, it has been measured that the driving range of electric vehicles can be reduced by 41% in real world sub-zero conditions4. The most significant negative effect of low temperature on Li-ion batteries is the generation of lithium metal growths called dendrites, which can perforate the separator and cause a short circuit or fire in the lithium-ion cells. A highly visible example of this was in the 2013 grounding of Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft following a spate of electrical system failures, including fires. Investigation found that cold winter overnight temperatures fostered lithium plating within the battery cells and caused the short circuits5.

Tags:  Graphene  Li-ion batteries  Mark Thompson  Talga Resources 

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Versarien PLC - USA Update

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Saturday, March 23, 2019
Versarien plc, is pleased to provide an update on the Company's activities in the United States of America. Versarien has recently established a new US corporate entity, Versarien Graphene Inc, to facilitate the Company's graphene and other 2D materials activities in the USA.  The Company is additionally in the process of establishing a new office, laboratory facility and applications centre in Houston, Texas that will act as a hub for the Company's activities in North America.

Patrick Abbott has been appointed as Versarien's Vice President North American Operations to oversee these activities and he will be based at the Company's Houston facility once established.  Patrick is an experienced speciality materials professional with over 20 years' experience in the sector.  

He is a former US Marine Corps Officer who spent over 16 years in a variety of global business development and marketing roles at BASF. In 2015 and 2016, Patrick was part of the team transitioning specific product lines to Huntsman Corporation. Subsequently he established Global Marketing Empire Solutions, a disruptive technology consulting company and joined XG Sciences, a company focussed on graphene nano technology, as their global sales manager.  At XG Sciences he was tasked with assisting the executive team in transitioning the company from an academic company to full commercialisation.

The establishment of this US presence follows on from collaboration with partners in the region.  Further North American potential collaboration partners and customers have been identified, both through inbound enquires and proactive approaches, and it is intended that the Houston facility and additional resource will enable these to be more efficiently progressed.

The Company is pleased to be participating in the UK Government organised "UK Technology and Capability Showcase" being held at Collins Aerospace in Charlotte, North Carolina, on 25 March 2019 where the Company will be presenting its 2D materials technology to Collins Aerospace representatives.

Neill Ricketts, CEO of Versarien, commented: "We are very pleased to be moving to the next stage of our development in the US with the establishment of Versarien Graphene Inc and a dedicated facility in Houston. 

"We are already pursuing a number of substantial opportunities in the US and I expect our level of activity to significantly increase in the coming months, particularly given the high number of enquires we have had for the supply of our graphene and other 2D materials from leading US companies."

"I am also particularly pleased we have secured the services of Patrick Abbott and I would like to formally welcome him to the Versarien team.  His skills and experience will be invaluable as we look to build more relationships and commercialise graphene enhanced products with US companies."

"Coupled with the recent progress we have made in China and elsewhere we remain confident that we can make further rapid progress this year.  I look forward to providing further updates on our US and other activities in due course."

Tags:  2D materials  Graphene  Neill Ricketts  Patrick Abbott  Versarien 

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Gold and graphene now used in biosensors to detect diseases

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Graphene and gold are now being used in ultrasensitive biosensors to detect diseases at the molecular level with near perfect efficiency.


In a paper published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, scientists with the University of Minnesota explain how they developed ultrasensitive biosensors capable of probing protein structures and, therefore, able to detect disorders related to protein misfolding.

Such disorders range from Alzheimer's disease in humans to chronic wasting disease and mad cow disease in animals.

"In order to detect and treat many diseases we need to detect protein molecules at very small amounts and understand their structure," said Sang-Hyun Oh, lead researcher on the study, in a media statement. "Currently, there are many technical challenges with that process. We hope that our device using graphene and a unique manufacturing process will provide the fundamental research that can help overcome those challenges."

The gold+graphene-infused biosensors can detect the imbalance that causes behind Alzheimer's disease, chronic wasting disease and mad cow disease.

Oh explained that graphene, a high-quality form of graphite that 'evolves' into a material made of a single layer of carbon atoms, has already been used in biosensors. The problem has been that its remarkable single atom thickness does not interact efficiently with light when shined through it. Light absorption and conversion to local electric fields are essential for detecting small amounts of molecules when diagnosing diseases.

According to the scientist, previous research utilizing similar graphene nanostructures has only demonstrated a light absorption rate of less than 10%.

In their new study, however, the UMN researchers combined graphene with nano-sized metal ribbons of gold. Using sticky tape and a high-tech nanofabrication technique called “template stripping,” they were able to create an ultra-flat base layer surface for the graphene.

They then used the energy of light to generate a sloshing motion of electrons or plasmons in the graphene. "By shining light on the single-atom-thick graphene layer device, they were able to create a plasmon wave with unprecedented efficiency at a near-perfect 94 percent light absorption into 'tidal waves' of electric field. When they inserted protein molecules between the graphene and metal ribbons, they were able to harness enough energy to view single layers of protein molecules," the university's press release reads.

According to Oh, he and his team were surprised by the rate of light absorption, which matched almost perfectly their computer simulations.

The scientists are hopeful that this technique will greatly improve different devices used to detect disorders related to protein misfolding.

Tags:  Biosensors  Graphene  Sang-Hyun Oh  University of Minnesota 

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A quantum magnet with a topological twist

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, March 19, 2019
Taking their name from an intricate Japanese basket pattern, kagome magnets are thought to have electronic properties that could be valuable for future quantum devices and applications. Theories predict that some electrons in these materials have exotic, so-called topological behaviors and others behave somewhat like graphene, another material prized for its potential for new types of electronics.

Now, an international team led by researchers at Princeton University has observed that some of the electrons in these magnets behave collectively, like an almost infinitely massive electron that is strangely magnetic, rather than like individual particles. The study was published in the journal Nature Physics this week.

The team also showed that placing the kagome magnet in a high magnetic field causes the direction of magnetism to reverse. This "negative magnetism" is akin to having a compass that points south instead of north, or a refrigerator magnet that suddenly refuses to stick.

"We have been searching for super-massive 'flat-band' electrons that can still conduct electricity for a long time, and finally we have found them," said M. Zahid Hasan, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics at Princeton University, who led the team. "In this system, we also found that due to an internal quantum phase effect, some electrons line up opposite to the magnetic field, producing negative magnetism."

The team explored how atoms arranged in a kagome pattern in a crystal give rise to strange electronic properties that can have real-world benefits, such as superconductivity, which allows electricity to flow without loss as heat, or magnetism that can be controlled at the quantum level for use in future electronics.

The researchers used state-of-the-art scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy (STM/S) to look at the behavior of electrons in a kagome-patterned crystal made from cobalt and tin, sandwiched between two layers of sulfur atoms, which are further sandwiched between two layers of tin.

In the kagome layer, the cobalt atoms form triangles around a hexagon with a tin atom in the center. This geometry forces the electrons into some uncomfortable positions -- leading this type of material to be called a "frustrated magnet."

To explore the electron behavior in this structure, the researchers nicked the top layers to reveal the kagome layer beneath.

They then used the STM/S technique to detect each electron's energy profile, or band structure. The band structure describes the range of energies an electron can have within a crystal, and explains, for example, why some materials conduct electricity and others are insulators. The researchers found that some of electrons in the kagome layer have a band structure that, rather than being curved as in most materials, is flat.

A flat band structure indicates that the electrons have an effective mass that is so large as to be almost infinite. In such a state, the particles act collectively rather than as individual particles.

Theories have long predicted that the kagome pattern would create a flat band structure, but this study is the first experimental detection of a flat band electron in such a system.

One of the general predictions that follows is that a material with a flat band may exhibit negative magnetism.

Indeed, in the current study, when the researchers applied a strong magnetic field, some of the kagome magnet's electrons pointed in the opposite direction.

"Whether the field was applied up or down, the electrons' energy flipped in the same direction, that was the first thing that was strange in terms of the experiments," said Songtian Sonia Zhang, a graduate student in physics and one of three co-first-authors on the paper.

"That puzzled us for about three months," said Jia-Xin Yin, a postdoctoral research associate and another co-first author on the study. "We were searching for the reason, and with our collaborators we realized that this was the first experimental evidence that this flat band peak in the kagome lattice has a negative magnetic moment."

The researchers found that the negative magnetism arises due to the relationship between the kagome flat band, a quantum phenomenon called spin-orbit coupling, magnetism and a quantum factor called the Berry curvature field. Spin-orbit coupling refers to a situation where an electron's spin, which itself is a quantum property of electrons, becomes linked to the electron's orbital rotation. The combination of spin-orbital coupling and the magnetic nature of the material leads all the electrons to behave in lock step, like a giant single particle.

Another intriguing behavior that arises from the tightly coupled spin-orbit interactions is the emergence of topological behaviors. The subject of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Physics, topological materials can have electrons that flow without resistance on their surfaces and are an active area of research. The cobalt-tin-sulfur material is an example of a topological system.

Two-dimensional patterned lattices can have other desirable types of electron conductance. For example, graphene is a pattern of carbon atoms that has generated considerable interest for its electronic applications over the past two decades. The kagome lattice's band structure gives rise to electrons that behave similarly to those in graphene.

Tags:  Graphene  M. Zahid Hasan  Princeton University  Songtian Sonia Zhang 

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