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Manchester researchers develop 2D dielectric inks suitable for print-in-place electronics

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Wednesday, December 4, 2019
The team at The University of Manchester have produced a two-dimensional hexagonal boron nitride ink which have been used to fabricate flexible thin-film transistors in collaboration with Duke University in North Carolina.

Published in ACS Nano, the team were able to develop insulating dielectric ink that is suitable for the print-in-place fabrication process, developed at Duke University for materials such as silver nanowires and semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Extending this process to include the hexagonal boron nitride ink led to the production of functional transistor devices, using both one and two-dimensional materials.

The use of printing technologies for flexible electronics has rapidly increased in prominence due to its simplicity, low cost and compatibility with a broad range of materials and substrates.

Currently there are a wide variety of printable functional inks, often made from organic-based materials or metal oxides, however, problems such as low carrier mobility, poor air stability, and the requirement for high processing temperatures are often encountered, limiting their application, the choice of printing method and the substrate which can be printed on.

Traditionally, there has been a particular lack of printable insulating materials that are functional without the use of high processing temperatures. Previous work carried out by the team at Duke had used silicon-based insulating materials, which are typically non-printable, rigid and brittle, thereby limiting the usage of devices in flexible electronic applications.

Using the insulating hexagonal boron nitride ink, the team were able to fully fabricate the thin-film transistors with carbon nanotube channel regions via direct-write aerosol jet printing onto flexible paper and plastic substrates in a print-in-place process, with the temperature always below 80°C. This processing temperature is one of the lowest ever reported for printed carbon nanotube-based thin-film transistors, yet the devices still show good electrical performance. The print-in-place aspect also removes the time and cost associated with the typical processing and treatment steps that are required to be performed outside of the printer.

“We had previously used our hexagonal boron nitride inks to inkjet print a graphene based transistor on paper. However, high performance transistors require a semiconducting channel, so we were pleased to see that our hexagonal boron nitride inks also perform very well in printed carbon nanotubes transistors made with the aerosol printer, showing the versatility of the hexagonal boron nitride inks in printed transistors.„
Professor Cinzia Casiraghi, Professor in Nanoscience

This paper is amongst the first reports on aerosol printing of 2D materials. Advantages of using aerosol jet printing compared to inkjet printing are the ability to print inks with a wide range of viscosity and surface tensions, in addition to the ability to print on complex surfaces.

Professor Cinzia Casiraghi who led the team at Manchester said: “We had previously used our hexagonal boron nitride inks to inkjet print a graphene based transistor on paper. However, high performance transistors require a semiconducting channel, so we were pleased to see that our hexagonal boron nitride inks also perform very well in printed carbon nanotubes transistors made with the aerosol printer, showing the versatility of the hexagonal boron nitride inks in printed transistors.”

Dr Aaron Franklin from Duke University said: “Nobody thought the aerosolized ink, especially for boron nitride, would deliver the properties needed to make functional electronics without being baked for at least an hour and a half. But not only did we get it to work, we showed that baking it for two hours after printing doesn’t improve its performance. It was as good as it could get just using our fully print-in-place process.”

The team from Duke University hope to use these inks to devise a fully print-in-place technique for electronics that is gentle enough to work on delicate surfaces including human skin.

The isolation of graphene at Manchester sparked a revolution in materials science and led to the classification of a host of other similar atomically thin materials such as hexagonal boron nitride, also known as ‘white graphene’.

But far more important is the way that these various types of 2D materials can be used as building blocks to create ‘designer materials’ or heterostructures with truly novel features on demand.

Tags:  2D materials  Aaron Franklin  ACS Nano  Cinzia Casiraghi  Duke University  Graphene  nanotubes  Nitride Ink  thin-film transistors  University of Manchester 

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Graphene Nanoplatelets: a future role in pipecoating?

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Tuesday, December 3, 2019
Pipelines constitute a major infrastructure investment frequently carrying materials which in the event of failure can cause significant loss to the owner and serious potential for environmental damage. To fulfil their role pipelines often run long distances either underwater or underground. This physical challenge is often further complicated by the crossing of international borders introducing complex codes and standards of management. Coatings are essential to the protection of pipelines from corrosion and subsequent failure but are themselves subject to degradation by severe abrasion, hydrothermal aging and chemical degradation. These coating systems are typically considered to be passive or active. Passive systems prevent corrosion by blocking key elements of water, oxygen and salts from reaching the pipe surface. Cathodic protection systems (CP) are reactive systems designed to protect pipelines in the event of failure.

Graphene was first produced and identified in 2004 by the group of Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselev at the University of Manchester, an event which was followed by the Nobel prize for Physics in 2010. One of the remarkable properties of graphene is its impermeability to gases. Graphene manufactured as a single monolayer is time consuming, expensive and difficult to scale. Graphene nanoplatelets (GNPs) offer a cheap and scalable alternative for use in barrier systems. Much research has been carried out on the implementation and use of graphene in coatings including those for pipelines. Direct application of GNP into epoxy has been discussed by Battocchi et al (1) who observed that low level additions of GNP offered improved barrier properties and corrosion mitigation together with improved abrasion resistance. Budd et al(2) applied GNP in laminate structures for flexible risers demonstrating the potential barrier properties of graphene in aggressive conditions. Applied Graphene Materials (AGM) GNPs are manufactured using the company’s patented proprietary “bottom up” process, yielding high specification graphene materials. AGM produce a range of GNP dispersions capable of easy addition into coating systems and have undertaken significant development activity to demonstrate their use in coating systems enabling improved in barrier performance and corrosion resistance.

Corrosion Testing

Current organic coating systems designed for protective coatings applied in harsh environments, such as bridges, are typically comprised of a number of different coating layer, each providing a different set of properties. A basic system usually consists of three layers, which may include a zinc rich primer coat offering sacrificial protection, an intermediate coat and a final topcoat for environmental protection. Typical dry film thicknesses of these coats is around 50 to 150 µm for the primer and intermediate coat and 50 µm for the top coat. Recently it has been demonstrated that GNPs, both as prepared and chemically functionalised, when incorporated into an organic coating system or host matrix, provide via a highly tortuous path which acts to impede the movement of corrosive species towards the metal surface (Okafor et al[3) ) creating a passive corrosion protection mechanism. In support of this, previous work by Choi et al (4) has also shown that very small additions of GNPs decreased water vapour transmission rates indicating a barrier type property, while some authors Aneja et al(5) also report an electrochemical activity provided by graphene within coatings. The introduction of GNPsinto the intermediate coat has recently been demonstrated by AGM(6) to increase significantly the impedance of a protective coating system as measured by EIS when studied in conjunction with Neutral Salt Spray testing (ASTM B117). The intermediate epoxy was formulated as shown below in Table 1.

Three different GNP-containing variants of the control were prepared (D1-D3) using the same initial preparation route as for the epoxy prototype base, by substituting commercially available GNPcontaining dispersion additives (formulation component 10) for epoxy in the final step (formulation component 9). The GNP dispersion additives were effectively treated as masterbatches, and were added in varying amounts according to their graphene content and the final GNP content specified in the end coating (Table 1). The dispersion used in the preparation of D1 and D3 contained a reduced graphene oxide type GNPs (A-GNP10). The dispersions used in the preparation of D2 contained GNPs of a ‘crumpled sheet’ type morphology with a relatively low density and high surface area (A-GNP35). In addition, dispersion D3 based on A-GNP10 contained an active corrosion inhibitor.

Prior to coating application, all substrates were degreased using acetone. Each first coat was applied to grit blasted mild steel CR4 grade panels (Impress North East Ltd.), of dimensions 150 x 100 x 2mm, by means of a gravity fed conventional spray gun. The over coating interval was 3 hours with all panels permitted a final curing period of 7 days at 23°C (+/-2°C). Dry film thickness of the prepared coatings were in the range of 50-60 microns for single coat samples and 150-160 microns for multi coat samples. Full details of the coating systems prepared can be seen in Table 2. All substrates were backed and edged prior to testing.

The panels were placed in a Neutral Salt Spray corrosion chamber, running ISO 9227 for a period of up to 1440 hours. This test method consists of a continuous salt spray mist at a temperature of 35°C. Panels were assessed at 10 day (240 hour intervals) for signs of blistering, corrosion, and corrosion creep in accordance with ISO4628. These assessments were complimented with electrochemical measurements, carried out at the same intervals. All electrochemical measurements were recorded using a Gamry 1000E potentiostat in conjunction with a Gamry ECM8 multiplexer to permit the concurrent testing of up to 8 samples per run. Each individual channel was connected to a Gamry PCT1 paint test cell, specifically designed for the electrochemical testing of coated metal substrates.

Figure 1 shows the progression of impedance modulus for the three coat system samples, measured at 0.1 Hz, over the time period during which the samples were subjected to NSS conditions. Initial impedance values (recorded at t=0) range from the orders of 108 to 1010 Ω.cm2 . The control sample, consisting of a zinc rich primer coat, a layer of commercial equivalent epoxy and polyurethane topcoat, displays the lowest overall impedance values in addition to one of the higher rates of decrease of impedance from the t=0 point. When GNPs are introduced to the intermediate layer, the impedance modulus is increased suggesting that the inclusion of GNPs is acting to increase the barrier performance properties of the system as a whole. The incorporation of A-GNP35 into D2 gave a final system uplift of 5 orders of magnitude above the control. Throughout the testing the D2 formulation showed little change in impedance, compared to the other samples. The achievement of >109 Ohm.cm2 @ 0.1Hz over a period of 1440 hours in neutral salt spray outperformed existing technology in barrier performance equating to a C5 high rating for salt spray performance according to ISO12944-1.

The choice of coating system for pipelines is typically influenced by the geographical region and is often made between thick or thin film build. Critical requirements of coatings in either case are:

• Excellent adhesion

• Low permeability

• Resistance to cathodic disbondment

• High electrical resistance

Thin build coating systems are typically based on Fusion Bonded Epoxy (FBE) either single or double layer being the preferred approach in the North American market. Alternatives might also include high build epoxy or polyurethane. Typically such thin build systems utilise an active CP system to provide additional corrosion protection. Graphene modification as shown by Battochi(1) and by AGM(6) might easily be incorporated into such epoxy or polyurethane systems through the use of AGM’s dispersions. The known electrical conductivity of Graphene might give cause for concern if the incorporation changes the insulating characteristics of the film. The GNP modification demonstrated by AGM is however substantially below the percolation threshold required for conductivity and the net impact on epoxy conductivity is considered negligible (Figure 2).

Thick build coating systems used in other parts of the world are typically 3 layer polyolefin (3LPO and might be polyethylene or polypropylene). AGM has experience in master-batching Graphene into thermoplastics and as such there is no obstacle to the introduction of GNPs into of the main body of the coating. GNP might also be introduced into the adhesive copolymer layer applied to the FBE typically used as a base for the 3LPO coating system.

Tags:  Andre Geim  Applied Graphene Materials  Coatings  Graphene  hydrothermal  Konstantin Novoselev  Nanoplatelets  Pipelines  Pipes  University of Manchester 

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Colloids funds graphene nanocomposites collaborative Ph.D research project with The University of Manchester

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Thursday, October 17, 2019
Updated: Thursday, October 17, 2019
Colloids Group, a leading manufacturer of innovative masterbatches, compounds, and performance enhancing additives, is funding a joint collaborative Ph.D. research project with the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) at The University of Manchester. The centre specialises in the rapid development and scale up of graphene and other 2D materials applications and focuses on several application areas to rapidly accelerate the development and commercialisation of new graphene technologies.The GEIC is an industry-led innovation centre, designed to work in collaboration with industry partners to create, test and optimise new concepts for delivery to market, along with the processes required for scale up and supply chain integration.

Phase 1 of this collaborative project was successfully completed within 12 months. Phase 2, which is about to start, is expected to be a three to four year research project. For this next phase, Colloids is funding and supporting a full time Ph.D. researcher who will be based at University of Manchester with the Advanced nanomaterials Group led by Dr. Mark A. Bissett and Professor Ian A. Kinloch. The Ph.D. researcher will also be working with and supervised by key Colloids’ R & D people involved in the project.  

The potential benefits of 2D thermoplastic nanocomposites have long been recognized. The project team will investigate the applicability of nanocomposites based on graphene and other two-dimensional (2D) materials to a broad range of thermoplastic materials, including polyolefins, polyamides and polyesters, and to understand how mechanical, thermal, electrical, rheological and gas-barrier properties (among others) are affected by the production process and by the materials used.  

The main goal of this collaborative Ph.D. research project is to develop and upscale new polymer-graphene nanocomposites with enhanced properties and multifunctional capabilities that are not currently available. Key target markets for ‘next generation’graphene nanocomposite Colloids products include automotive, aerospace, electronics and electrical.

As the research project is through Graphene@Manchester, the collaborative project teambenefits from access to the extensive graphene research facilities at The University of Manchester: the National Graphene Institute (NGI), the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC), and theHenry Royce Institute. The University of Manchesteris a globally recognized centre of excellence for cutting edge graphene research, building upon the published work by Professor Andre Geim and Professor Konstantin Novoselov, who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010 for isolating, characterising and contacting ground-breaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene.

Colloids Group is exhibiting with parent company, TOSAF Group Ltd. (Booth# Hall 8a / D01) at the K’19 Plastics & Rubber exhibition in Dusseldorf, Germany, which runs from 16-23 October 2019. Show visitors from companies interested in the graphene nanocomposites collaborative project can speak with technical people from the Colloids’ team who will be at the show.

Tags:  2D materials  Colloids Group  Graphene  Ian A. Kinloch  Mark A. Bissett  nanocomposites  nanomaterials  polymers  University of Manchester 

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First Graphene to develop graphene-based energy storage materials for supercapacitors

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Tuesday, September 24, 2019
First Graphene has signed an exclusive worldwide licensing agreement with the University of Manchester to develop graphene-hybrid materials for use in supercapacitors. The licencing agreement is for patented technology for the manufacture of metal oxide decorated graphene materials, using a proprietary electrochemical process.

The graphene-hybrid materials will have the potential to create a new generation of supercapacitors, for use in applications ranging from electric vehicles to elevators and cranes. Supercapacitors offer high power-density energy storage, with the possibility of multiple charge/discharge cycles and short charging times. The market for supercapacitor devices is forecast to grow at 20% per year to approximately USD 2.1 billion by 2022. Growth may, however, be limited by the availability of suitable

Supercapacitors typically use microporous carbon nanomaterials, which have a gravimetric capacitance between 50 and 150 Farads/g. Research carried out by the University of Manchester shows that high capacitance materials incorporating graphene are capable of reaching up to 500 Farads/g. This will significantly increase the operational performance of supercapacitors in a wide range of applications, as well as increasing the available supply of materials.

Published research1 by Prof. Robert Dryfe and Prof. Ian Kinloch of The University of Manchester reveals how high capacity, microporous materials can be manufactured by the electrochemical processing of graphite raw materials. These use transition metal ions to create metal oxide decorated graphene materials, which have an extremely high gravimetric capacitance, to 500 Farads/g.

Prof. Dryfe has secured funding from the UK EPSRC (Engineering and Physical Sciences Council) for further optimisation of metal oxide/graphene materials. Following successful completion of this study, FGR is planning to build a pilot-scale production unit at its laboratories within the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre (GEIC). It is anticipated that this will be the first step in volume production in the UK, to enable the introduction of these materials to supercapacitor device manufacturers.

Andy Goodwin, Chief Technology Officer of First Graphene Ltd says: “This investment is a direct result of our presence at the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre. It emphasises the importance of effective external relationships with university research partners. The programme is also aligned with the UK government’s industrial strategy grand challenges and we’ll be pursuing further support for the development of our business within the UK.”

James Baker, Chief Executive of Graphene@Manchester, added: “We are really pleased with this further development of our partnership with First Graphene. The University’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre is playing a key role in supporting the acceleration of graphene products and applications through the development of a critical supply chain of material supply and in the development of applications for industry. This latest announcement marks a significant step in our Graphene City developments, which looks to create a unique innovation ecosystem here in the Manchester city-region, the home of graphene.”

Tags:  Andy Goodwin  Energy Storage  First Graphene  Graphene  Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre  Ian Kinloch  James Baker  nanomaterials  Robert Dryfe  supercapacitors  University of Manchester 

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The University of Manchester Joins The Graphene Council

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Wednesday, August 28, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The University of Manchester’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) becomes the newest member of The Graphene Council

The University of Manchester is home to two world-class, multi-million pound centres for the research and development of graphenerelated materials and applications. In particular, the Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre (GEIC) specialises in the rapid development and scale up of graphene and other 2D materials applications, with a focus on: 

• Composites
• Energy
• Membranes
• Inks, Formulations and Coatings
• Graphene production
• Measurements and characterisation

The mission of the GEIC is to help accelerate the transfer of university based research and knowledge into real world commercial applications and is a key player in the UK’s overall initiative to create the world’s most advanced graphene ecosystem. 

James Baker, CEO at Graphene@Manchester stated: “We have decided to become a member of The Graphene Council because of a shared mission to help advance the commercial adoption of graphene as an industrial material, and because The Graphene Council compliments the efforts of the GEIC to help inform important industry sectors like composites, plastics, energy storage, sensors, coatings and many others. We look forward to working together with The Graphene Council as graphene reaches a critical tipping point over the next 12-18 months.”

The Graphene Council is the largest, independent community in the world for graphene researchers, application developers and commercial professionals reaching more than 25,000 individuals and companies globally. 

Terrance Barkan CAE, Executive Director of The Graphene Council said: “We are very honoured to be affiliated with the GEIC and The University of Manchester as the home of graphene’s discovery and where such important work on this material continues apace.

The development of graphene into a world-class commercial material will require the coordinated efforts of the entire supply chain so that the amazing properties of this material can be leveraged for a new generation of products and application that are more effective, longer lasting and much more sustainable for our planet.” 

If your organization would like to learn more about how to leverage the capabilities of graphene materials, please contact or Terrance Barkan at


Listen to the recent Graphene Talk Podcast interview between The Graphene Council and James Baker, CEO of Graphene@Manchester about the state of graphene commercialization and application development. 


Tags:  Commercialization  GEIC  James Baker  University of Manchester 

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3D printable 2D materials based inks show promise to improve energy storage devices

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Sunday, August 11, 2019
Updated: Sunday, August 4, 2019
For the first time, a team of researchers, from the School of Materials and the National Graphene Institute at The the University of Manchester have formulated inks using the 2D material MXene, to produce 3D printed interdigitated electrodes.

As published in Advanced Materials, these inks have been used to 3D print electrodes that can be used in energy storages devices such as supercapacitors.

MXene, a ‘clay-like’ two-dimensional material composed of early transition metals (such as titanium) and carbon atoms, was first developed by Drexel University. However, unlike most clays, MXene shows high electrical conductivity upon drying and is hydrophilic, allowing them to be easily dispersed in aqueous suspensions and inks.

Graphene was the world’s first two-dimensional material, more conductive than copper, many more times stronger than steel, flexible, transparent and one million times thinner than the diameter of a human hair.

Since its isolation, graphene has opened the doors for the exploration of other two-dimensional materials, each with a range of different properties. However, in order to make use of these unique properties, 2D materials need to be efficiently integrated into devices and structures. The manufacturing approach and materials formulations are essential to realise this.

Dr Suelen Barg who led the team said: “We demonstrate that large MXene flakes spanning a few atoms thick, and water can be independently used to formulate inks with very specific viscoelastic behaviour for printing. These inks can be directly 3D printed into freestanding architectures over 20 layers tall. Due to the excellent electrical conductivity of MXene, we can employ our inks to directly 3D print current collector-free supercapacitors. The unique rheological properties combined with the sustainability of the approach open many opportunities to explore, especially in energy storage and applications requiring the functional properties of 2D MXene in customized 3D architectures.”

Wenji and Jae, PhD students at the Nano3D Lab at the University, said: “Additive manufacturing offers one possible method of building customised, multi-materials energy devices, demonstrating the capability to capture MXene’s potential for usage in energy applications. We hope this research will open avenues to fully unlock the potential of MXene for use in this field.”

The unique rheological properties combined with the sustainability of the approach open many opportunities to explore, especially in energy storage and applications requiring the functional properties of 2D MXene in customized 3D architectures. Dr Suelen Barg, School of Materials

The performance and application of these devices increasingly rely on the development and scalable manufacturing of innovative materials in order to enhance their performance.

Supercapacitors are devices that are able to produce massive amounts of power while using much less energy than conventional devices. There has been much work carried out on the use of 2D materials in these types of devices due to their excellent conductivity as well as having the potential to reduce the weight of the device.

Potential uses for these devices are for the automotive industry, such as in electric cars as well as for mobile phones and other electronics.

Tags:  2D materials  3D Printing  Drexel University  Graphene  Suelen Barg  Supercapacito  University of Manchester 

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New quantum phenomena helps to understand fundamental limits of graphene electronics

Posted By Graphene Council, The Graphene Council, Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, July 30, 2019
A team of researchers from the Universities of Manchester, Nottingham and Loughborough have discovered quantum phenomena that helps to understand the fundamental limits of graphene electronics. As published in Nature Communications, the work describes how electrons in a single atomically-thin sheet of graphene scatter off the vibrating carbon atoms which make up the hexagonal crystal lattice.

By applying a magnetic field perpendicular to the plane of graphene, the current-carrying electrons are forced to move in closed circular “cyclotron” orbits. In pure graphene, the only way in which an electron can escape from this orbit is by bouncing off a “phonon” in a scattering event. These phonons are particle-like bundles of energy and momentum and are the “quanta” of the sound waves associated with the vibrating carbon atom. The phonons are generated in increasing numbers when the graphene crystal is warmed up from very low temperatures.

By passing a small electrical current through the graphene sheet, the team were able to measure precisely the amount of energy and momentum that is transferred between an electron and a phonon during a scattering event.

Their experiment revealed that two types of phonon scatter the electrons: transverse acoustic (TA) phonons in which the carbon atoms vibrate perpendicular to the direction of phonon propagation and wave motion (somewhat analogous to surface waves on water) and longitudinal acoustic (LA) phonons in which the carbon atoms vibrate back and forth along the direction of the phonon and the wave motion; (this motion is somewhat analogous to the motion of sound waves through air).

The measurements provide a very accurate measure of the speed of both types of phonons, a measurement which is otherwise difficult to make for the case of a single atomic layer. An important outcome of the experiments is the discovery that TA phonon scattering dominates over LA phonon scattering.

We were pleasantly surprised to find such prominent magnetophonon oscillations appearing in graphene. We were also puzzled why people had not seen them before, considering the extensive amount of literature on quantum transport in graphene. Laurence Eaves and Roshan Krishna Kumar, The University of Manchester

The observed phenomena, commonly referred to as “magnetophonon oscillations”, was measured in many semiconductors years before the discovery of graphene. It is one of the oldest quantum transport phenomena that has been known for more than fifty years, predating the quantum Hall effect. Whereas graphene possesses a number of novel, exotic electronic properties, this rather fundamental phenomenon has remained hidden.

Laurence Eaves & Roshan Krishna Kumar, co-authors of the work said: “We were pleasantly surprised to find such prominent magnetophonon oscillations appearing in graphene. We were also puzzled why people had not seen them before, considering the extensive amount of literature on quantum transport in graphene.”

Their appearance requires two key ingredients. First, the team had to fabricate high quality graphene transistors with large areas at the National Graphene Institute. If the device dimensions are smaller than a few micrometres the phenomena could not be observed.

Piranavan Kumaravadivel from The University of Manchester, lead author of the paper said: “At the beginning of quantum transport experiments, people used to study macroscopic, millimetre sized crystals. In most of the work on quantum transport on graphene, the studied devices are typically only a few micrometres in size. It seems that making larger graphene devices is not only important for applications but now also for fundamental studies.”

The second ingredient is temperature. Most graphene quantum transport experiments are performed at ultra-cold temperatures in-order to slow down the vibrating carbon atoms and “freeze-out” the phonons that usually break quantum coherence. Therefore, the graphene is warmed up as the phonons need to be active to cause the effect.

Mark Greenaway, from Loughborough University, who worked on the quantum theory of this effect said: “This result is extremely exciting - it opens a new route to probe the properties of phonons in two-dimensional crystals and their heterostructures. This will allow us to better understand electron-phonon interactions in these promising materials, understanding which is vital to develop them for use in new devices and applications.”

Tags:  2D materials  Graphene  Laurence Eaves  Loughborough University  Mark Greenaway  Piranavan Kumaravadivel  Roshan Krishna Kumar  University of Manchester  University of Nottingham 

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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


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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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  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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