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Graphene activates immune cells helping bone regeneration in mice

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Thursday, November 28, 2019
Graphene has been used for many years in the aeronautics and automotive industries and is even used to create new composites. However, it still has a long way to go to offer the consumer the revolutionary applications promised since Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010. A team of researchers from several Italian universities within the Graphene Flagship Consortium intends to change this and apply it to regenerative medicine therapies.

Publications about the biomedical applications of graphene-based materials have increased in recent years. So says the researcher from Graphene Flagship partner University of Padua (Italy) Lucia Gemma Delogu, who considers that this is due to its "incredible" physicochemical properties, a long list that ranges from its high flexibility and resistance to its good conductivity, both electrical and thermal.

Delogu and her team have worked to take advantage of the material in the field of biomedicine. Their study, published this year in Nanoscale, shows how the immune properties of graphene allow bone tissue to regenerate in mice. This is possible through nano-tools that can activate or deactivate the immune response, an approach that is of great interest for cancer therapies and tissue engineering.

"Graphene-based materials can improve bone regeneration, a complex process that requires interaction between immune and skeletal cells," Delogu explains to Sinc. In the study, the researchers combined a type of graphene oxide with calcium phosphate, a substance capable of activating this regeneration.

"The injection of the graphene-based material into the tibia of mice showed an improvement in the bone mass in the area and in bone formation, suggesting that the combination is capable of activating monocytes to induce osteogenesis," continues the researcher.

How does the body respond to graphene?

Delogu is also the coordinator of the G-Immunomics project, whose objective is to analyse the impact of graphene on the health of living beings, with a view to its possible biomedical applications. G-Immunomics is one of the Partnering Projects of the Graphene Flagship, a European consortium of more than 150 research centres and companies, with a budget of 1,000 million euros and the goal of taking graphene and related materials towards application.

"The use of graphene in biomedicine may revolutionize medical protocols with new theranostic approaches," a concept that merges the terms "therapy" and "diagnosis" in the context of personalized medicine. "If we learn how graphene interacts with our immune system, we will be able to explore much more specific therapies for the treatment of diseases," she says.

The researcher explains that these interactions are complex, so it is still "an image that lacks several colours." By injecting a material, it comes into contact with the immune cells in the blood, which means that studying the impact of graphene on the immune response is "fundamental".

For this reason, Delogu's team is also studying how graphene can stimulate or suppress the immune response. "Our research wants to show a broad picture of the interaction of immune cells in blood with layered materials such as those based on graphene," with the ultimate goal of their possible to apply in biomedicine efficiently but also safely.

Graphene against osteoporosis
Diseases related to bone loss, such as osteoporosis, are a problem for millions of people worldwide. The World Health Organisation estimates that, in Europe alone, 22 million women and 5.5 million men aged 50-84 suffer from osteoporosis.

"Our preclinical research reveals that functionalized graphene may offer a medical opportunity to fight these bone-related diseases," says Delogu. "By promoting bone regeneration, they could also be used to improve the healing of bone wounds and shorten their duration."

Even, she says, "to combat bone loss suffered by astronauts due to lack of gravity". In this área, Delogu is involved in the project WHISKIES recently funded by the European Space Agency.

For all these reasons, she is confident that graphene can a have a future in biomedicine "We are at an early stage, but we hope that the work will open the door to real clinical applications for graphene-based materials," she says. Her dream is to explore the immunological potential of graphene in other fields of regenerative medicine.

Tags:  Andre Geim  Graphene  Healthcare  Konstantin Novoselov  Lucia Gemma Delogu  Medical  University of Padua 

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Tetra Pak explores Graphene material for the food and beverage manufacturing industry

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Friday, October 18, 2019
Tetra Pak has joined the European Commission Graphene Flagship project as the exclusive representative from the packaging industry to explore possible future applications of graphene in food and beverage (F&B) manufacturing. 

Graphene is a carbon-based material, one of the thinnest known to mankind, one atom thick, while also being incredibly strong: around 200 times stronger than steel. It is an excellent conductor of heat, electricity and has a wide range of light absorption abilities. Graphene material could bring breakthrough innovations with unlimited potential for integration in almost any industry.

Prof Konstantin Novoselov, Physicist and Nobel Prize Winner said: ‘Graphene has the potential to revolutionise a range of processes and industries. Since Graphene’s first isolation in 2004, we have seen tremendous success and marketplace application of the material within electronics and automotive industries, I’m looking forward to the next phase of the Graphene Flagship and exploring potential innovations in the packaging industry.’

Sara De Simoni, VP, Equipment Engineering, Tetra Pak said: ‘Tetra Pak’s involvement with the European Graphene Flagship is one example of our ambition to drive innovation to the next level. It is a privilege to be the only representative from our industry in this research initiative and puts us at the cutting edge to address challenges through multidisciplinary research and development together with our industry partners.’

Tetra Pak is leading R&D in the packaging sector, exploring the potential graphene holds to unlock a range of new and revolutionary innovations for the F&B industry, including: 

Packaging material innovation – is being examined to see how graphene could offer coatings to reduce carbon footprint in packaging supply chain, graphene can also enhance the performance of current packaging materials, enable new functionality as well as increase recyclability.

Smart Packaging – with the development of smart packaging, graphene’s ultra-thin flexible sensors can be integrated to packages as data carriers for producers, retailers and consumers. Graphene sensors can also be smaller, lighter and less expensive than traditional sensors.

Next generation of equipment – exploring how graphene composites can be used to make equipment lighter and more energy efficient has the potential to reduce costs and energy consumption.  With only modifications needed to equipment over additional purchases, both time and money are saved.

Tags:  Graphene  Konstantin Novoselov  Sara De Simoni  Sensors  Tetra Pak  The Graphene Flagship 

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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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Graphene Nanomaterials Unlocking New Possibilities

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Friday, March 8, 2019

Since the isolation of graphene in 2004 ( a single plane of sp2 carbon bonded atoms in a hexagonal honeycomb lattice), there has been a significant amount of research and application development work in academic and industrial organizations world-wide. 

Today, graphene is being produced and used in commercial quantities in a wide range of application areas, from  energy storage to construction materials. In fact, more than 40 discreet industries and applications are set to be disrupted by the extraordinary properties of a range of graphene materials.

Although the original definition of graphene is carbon as a single layer of atoms, commercial forms of graphene include; CVD Monolayer, Graphene Nano-platelets (GNPs), Graphene Oxide and various forms of functionalized graphene depending on the the intended application.

 

There are more than 200 companies world-wide that claim to produce graphene materials with new companies entering the sector every day.

The Graphene Council was founded in 2013 to represent the graphene community, including researchers, producers, application developers and end users. Today our community includes more than 20,000 material scientists and R&D professionals world-wide. 

We are actively working to support and advance the commercial adoption of graphene though the development of standards as members of the ISO/ANSI/IEC standards working groups as well as our quality control initiative,  the Verified Graphene Producers program which includes in-person inspections and testing of material at leading laboratories, like the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in the UK,

The Graphene Council is also a founding Affiliate Member of the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Center (GEIC) at the University of Manchester. The GEIC allows for the rapid prototyping and testing of graphene enhanced products through the use of onsite industrial grade equipment and material characterization tools. 

If you are interested in learning how graphene can unlock new performance gains for your products or if you have new application ideas, contact us. 

Our global team of experts can help you identify the right partners and materials for your objectives. Contact us for more information. 

 

Graphene was first isolated at the 

University of Manchester in 2004 by 

Dr. Andre Geim and Dr. Konstantin Novoselov 

for which they received the 

Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.

 

Tags:  Andre Geim  graphene  Konstantin Novoselov  Nobel  the graphene council  The Graphene Flagship 

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New Properties Open Up New Applications for Graphene

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Friday, November 11, 2016

From properties as a superconductor to unexpected membrane separation abilities, graphene continues to surprise

 

When graphene is discovered to have new and sometimes unexpected properties, it quickly adds on potential new applications that it could be used for. 

 

This year we have seen that it actually does become a superconductor, opening up potential as material used in quantum computers. We have also seen graphene surprise even the Nobel Laureate who discovered it by it serving as a membrane for filtering out nuclear waste at nuclear power plants.

 

Graphene’s Potential as a Superconductor Just Got a Clearer

 


 

Illustration: Takashi Takahashi/Tohoku University

 

Graphene’s property as a conductor is unrivalled. The ballistic transport of graphene—the speed at which electrons pass through a material at room temperature—is so fast that it has surpassed what scientists believed were its theoretical limits. It is at the point now where electrons seem to be behaving like photons in graphene. Whenever this amazing property of graphene as a conductor is mentioned, people wonder if it might make for a good superconductor.

 

While there has been some research that has suggested that graphene could be made into a superconductor—a material with zero resistance to the flow of electricity—we now have more conclusive proof that it is indeed the case. 

 

In joint research out of Tohoku University and the University of Tokyo in Japan, scientists there have developed a new method for getting graphene to behave as a superconductor,  and in so doing have eliminated the chance that what they were observing was the transformation of graphene into a semiconductor.

 

Takashi Takahashi, a professor at Tohoku University and leader of the research, explained that they took a number of different approaches to ensure that what they were witnessing was graphene becoming a superconductor. In research published in the journal ACS Nano,  the researchers were first extremely meticulous about how they fabricated the graphene. 

 

They started with high-quality graphene on a silicon carbide crystal, and controlled the number of graphene sheets. This gave them a well-characterized bilayer graphene, into which they stuffed calcium atoms. So precise was the process hat they could actually ascribe a chemical formula to their sample: C6CaC6. This was an important achievement because having a precise count for the number of Li or Ca atoms determines the amount of donated electrons into graphene, which controls the occurrence of superconductivity.

 

The researchers’ measurements confirmed that superconductivity did occur with the graphene. Electrical resistivity dropped rapidly at around 4 K (-269 °C), indicative of an emergence of superconductivity. The measurements further indicated that the bilayer graphene did not create the superconductivity, nor did lithium-intercalated bilayer graphene exhibit superconductivity. This meant that the drop in resistance was due to the electron transfer from the calcium atoms to the graphene sheets.

 

Now that graphene has been made to perform as a superconductor with a clear zero electrical resistivity, it becomes possible to start considering applying graphene into the making of a quantum computer that would use this superconducting graphene as the basis for an integrated circuit.

 

Unfortunately, like most superconducting materials, the temperature at which graphene reaches superconductivity is too low to be practical. Raising that temperature will be the next step in the research. 

 

Graphene Nanoribbons Increase Their Potential

 


Image: Patrick Han

 

Graphene nanoribbons (GNRs) appear to be among the best options for electronics applications because of the each with which it’s possible to engineer a band gap into them. Narrow ones are semiconductors, while wider ones act as conductors. Pretty simple.

 

With improved methods being developed for manufacturing GNRs that are both compatible with current semiconductor manufacturing methods and can be scaled up, the future would appear bright. But there’s not a lot of knowledge of what happens when you start trying to manipulate GNRs into actual electronic devices.

 

Now a team of researchers at Tohoku University's Advanced Institute of Materials Research (AIMR) in Japan is investigating what happens when you interconnect GNRs end to end using molecular assembly to form elbow structures, which are essentially interconnection points.  The researchers believe that this development provides the key to unlocking GNRs’ potential in high-performance and low-power-consumption electronics.

 

“Current molecular assemblies either produce straight GNRs (i.e., without identifiable interconnection points), or randomly interconnected GNRs,” said Dr. Patrick Han, the project leader, in press release. “These growth modes have too many intrinsic unknowns for determining whether electrons travel across graphene interconnection points smoothly,” said Han, who added that, “The key is to design a molecular assembly that produces GNRs that are systematically interconnected with clearly distinguishable interconnection points.”

 

In research published in the journal ACS Nano, the AIMR researchers demonstrated that both the electron and thermal conductivities of two interconnected GNRs should be the same as that of the ends of a single GNR.

 

“The major finding of this work is that interconnected GNRs do not show electronic disruption (e.g., electron localization that increases resistance at the interconnection points),” said Han in the press release. “The electronically smooth interconnection demonstrates that GNR properties (including tailored band gaps, or even spin-aligned zigzag edges) can be connected to other graphene structures. These results show that finding a way to connect defect-free GNRs to desired electrodes may be the key strategy toward achieving high-performance, low-power-consumption electronics.”

 

Graphene Has Special Properties for Cleaning Up Nuclear Waste

 


Image: The University of Manchester

 

The merits of graphene as a separation membrane medium have long been extolled.  The properties that distinguish graphene for these applications are its large surface area, the variability of its pore size and its adhesion properties.

 

These attractive properties have not gone unnoticed by Andre Geim, who, along with Konstantin Novoselov, won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery and study of graphene. Geim has dedicated a significant amount of his research efforts since then to the use of graphene as a filtering medium in various separation technologies.

 

Now Geim and his colleagues at the University of Manchester have found that graphene filters are effective at cleaning up the nuclear waste produced at nuclear power plants.   This application could make one of the most costly and complicated aspects of nuclear power generation ten times less energy intensive and therefore much more cost effective.

 

In research published in the journal Science, Geim and his colleagues at Manchester experimented to see if the nuclei of deuterium—deuterons—could pass through the two-dimensional (2-D) materials graphene and boron nitride. The existing theories seemed to suggest that the deuterons would pass through easily. But to the surprise of the researchers, not only did the 2-D membranes sieve out the deuterons, but the separation was also accomplished with a high degree of efficiency.

 

“This is really the first membrane shown to distinguish between subatomic particles, all at room temperature,” said Marcelo Lozada-Hidalgo, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Manchester and first author of the paper, in a press release. “Now that we showed that it is a fully scalable technology, we hope it will quickly find its way to real applications.”

 

Irina Grigorieva, another member of the research team, added: “It is a really simple set up. We hope to see applications of these filters not only in analytical and chemical tracing technologies but also in helping to clean nuclear waste from radioactive tritium.”

Tags:  Andre Geim  ballistic transport  Irina Grigorieva  Konstantin Novoselov  Marcelo Lozada-Hidalgo  University of Manchester 

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