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New production method for carbon nanotubes gets green light

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Thursday, January 9, 2020
A new method of producing carbon nanotubes - tiny molecules with incredible physical properties used in touchscreen displays, 5G networks and flexible electronics - has been given the green light by researchers, meaning work in this crucial field can continue.

Single-walled carbon nanotubes are among the most attractive nanomaterials for a wide range of applications ranging from nanoelectronics to medical sensors. They can be imagined as the result of rolling a single graphene sheet into a tube.

Their properties vary widely with their diameter, what chemists call chirality - how symmetrical they are - and by how the graphene sheet is rolled.

The problem faced by researchers is that it is no longer possible to make high quality research samples of single-walled carbon nanotubes using the standard method. This was associated with the Carbon Center at Rice University, which used the high-pressure carbon monoxide (HiPco) gas-phase process developed by Nobel Laureate, the late Rick Smalley.

The demise of the Carbon Center in the mid-2010s, the divesting of the remaining HiPco samples to a third-party entity with no definite plans of further production, and the expiration of the core patents for the HiPco process, meant that this existing source of nanotubes was no longer an option.

Now however, a collaboration between scientists at Swansea University (Wales, UK), Rice University (USA), Lamar University (USA), and NoPo Nanotechnologies (India) has demonstrated that the latter's process and material design is a suitable replacement for the the Rice method.

Analysis of the Rice "standard" and new commercial-scale samples show that back-to-back comparisons are possible between prior research and future applications, with the newer HiPco nanotubes from NoPo Nanotechnologies comparing very favourably to the older ones from Rice.

These findings will go some way to reassure researchers who might have been concerned that their work could not continue as high-quality nanotubes would no longer be readily available.

Professor Andrew Barron of Swansea University's Energy Safety Research Institute, the project lead, said:
"Variability in carbon nanotube sources is known to be a significant issue when trying to compare research results from various groups. What is worse is that being able to correlate high quality literature results with scaled processes is still difficult".

Erstwhile members of the Smalley group at Rice University, which developed the original HiPco process, helped start NoPo Nanotechnologies with the aim of updating the HiPco process, and produce what they call NoPo HiPCO® SWCNTs.

Lead author Dr. Varun Shenoy Gangoli stated:
"It is in the interest of all researchers to understand how the presently available product compares to historically available Rice materials that have been the subject of a great range of academic studies, and also to those searching for a commercial replacement to continue research and development in this field."

Tags:  Andrew Barron  carbon nanotubes  Graphene  Medical  nanoelectronics  Rice University  Sensors  Swansea University  Varun Shenoy Gangoli 

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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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Haydale in Collaborative SMART Expertise Programme on Applications of Functionalised Micro & Nano Materials

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Haydale is pleased to announce that it is working alongside Swansea University, GTS Flexibles, Alliance Labels, Tectonic International, ScreenTec, Alliance Labels, Malvern Panalytical and the English Institute of Sport on a Welsh Government SMART Expertise Program. The programme, funded by the Welsh Government as part of its European Development Fund, is intended to benefit industry in Wales through the development of new concepts and advanced functionalised inks using Haydale’s advanced materials.

Combining expertise from across the consortium, the programme will see the creation of a product pipeline for the scale up to volume production of Applications of Functionalised Micro & Nano Materials, also known as the AFM2 Product Pipeline. This is designed to speed up the process required to take products from proof of concept into volume and profitable products. With a focus on market pull, the AFM2 Product Pipeline will turn a demand driven idea into a bench prototype followed by pilot production for market and customer evaluation.

The first examples to shape this pipeline development will be provided by the English Institute of Sport (EIS), Tectonic and GTS Flexibles, with an intention to generate a steady feed of new concepts into the pipeline to ensure its sustainability beyond the project.
 
As previously announced, Haydale, in collaboration with WCPC, has developed and refined a range of proprietary printing inks utilising its functionalised graphene for the development of advanced wearable technology to be embedded into a range of apparel for elite athletes in training for the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The functionalised inks fulfil a range of functions in sensing and conditioning, combined with ease of printing for use in the rapidly growing wearable technology market. 
 
Professor Tim Claypole MBE, Director, the Welsh Centre for Printing and Coating, Swansea University, said: “This is a really exciting project which will take innovative concepts manufactured by printing of advanced functional materials and rapidly transitioned them from proof of concept into volume, profitable products. It will drive more applications for inks containing the unique functionalised nano carbons created by the Haydale Plasma Functionalisation process.”
 
Keith Broadbent, Haydale COO, said: “The close relationship with our colleagues at WCPC is now bearing fruit with a range of robust, stable, high performing functionalised inks and coatings emerging from extensive development work and finding applications in wearable technology, printed sensors and thermal management.”

Tags:  Alliance Labels  Graphene  GTS Flexibles  Haydale  Malvern Panalytical  ScreenTec  Swansea University  Tectonic International 

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