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Graphene Gives Aluminum-Based Explosives More Bang for the Buck

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, February 24, 2020
Researchers from the U.S. Army have discovered a new way to get more energy out of energetic materials containing aluminum: by coating them with graphene oxide.

This discovery coincides with the one of the Army’s modernization priorities: Long Range Precision Fires. The new fining could lead to more energetic metal powders as propellant/explosive ingredients in Army munitions.

Lauded as a miracle material, graphene is considered the strongest and lightest material in the world. It’s also the most conductive and transparent, and the most expensive to produce. Its applications are many, extending to electronics by enabling touchscreen laptops via light-emitting diode and organic light-emitting diode LCDs and OLED displays. But oxidizing graphite makes graphene oxide (GO) much less expensive to make.

Although GO is a popular two-dimensional material that has attracted intense interest across numerous disciplines and materials applications, this discovery exploits GO as an effective light-weight additive for practical energetic applications using micron-size aluminum powders (uAl)—i.e., aluminum particles one millionth of a meter in diameter. This new work signals the Army beginning to develop better metal propellant/explosive ingredients to protect more lives for the Army warfighters.

"Aluminum (Al) can theoretically release a large quantity of heat (as much as 31 kilojoules per gram) and is relatively cheap due to its natural abundance,” says Chi-Chin Wu of the Army Research Lab. “µAl powders have been widely used in energetic applications.

“However, it is difficult to ignite them using an optical flash lamp due to its poor light absorption,” Wu continues. “To improve its light absorption during ignition, it is often mixed with heavy metallic oxides which decrease the energetic performance.”

Nanometer-sized Al powders (i.e., one billionth of a meter in diameter) can be ignited more easily by a wide-area optical flash lamp , and they release heat much faster than can be achieved using conventional single-point methods such as hotwire ignition. Unfortunately, nanometer-sized Al powders are costly. The team did, however, demonstrate the value of uAl/GO composites as potential propellant/explosive ingredients. It showed that GO lets of uAl via an optical flash lamp, releasing more energy at a faster rate—thus significantly improving the energetic performance of µAl beyond that of the more expensive nanometer-sized Al powder. The team also discovered that the ignition and combustion of µAl powders can be controlled by varying the GO content to get the desired energy output.

Images showing the structure of the µAl/GO composite particles were obtained by high resolution transmission electron (TEM) microscopy. “It is exciting to see through advanced microscopy how a simple mechanical mixing process can wrap µAl particles in a GO sheet,” says Wu.

The researchers also discovered that GO increased the amount of µAl reacting in the microsecond timescale—a regime analogous to the release of explosive energy during a detonation.

Upon initiation of the uAl/GO composite with a pulsed laser using a technique called laser-induced air shock from energetic materials (LASEM), the exothermic reactions of the µAl/GO accelerated the resulting laser-induced shock velocity beyond that of pure µAl or pure GO. So µAl/GO composite can increase the power of military explosives, as well as enhance the combustion and blast effects. This could, therefore , lead to longer range and/or more lethal weapons.

Tags:  Army Research Lab  Chi-Chin Wu  coatings  composites  Graphene  graphene oxide 

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Does graphene cause or prevent the corrosion of copper? New study finally settles the debate

Posted By Graphene Council, Saturday, February 22, 2020
Copper has been essential to human technology since its early days--it was even used to make tools and weapons in ancient times. It is widely used even today, especially in electronic devices that require wiring. But, a challenge with using copper is that its surface oxidizes over time, even under ambient conditions, ultimately leading to its corrosion. And thus, finding a long-term method to protect the exposed surfaces of copper is a valuable goal. One common way of protecting metal surfaces is by coating them with anti-corrosive substances. Graphene is studied extensively as a candidate for anti-corrosive coating, as it serves as a barrier to gas molecules. But, despite these properties, graphene sheets are seen to protect copper from corrosion only over short periods (less than 24 hours). In fact, surprisingly, after this initial period, graphene appears to increase the rate of copper corrosion, which is completely in contrast to its anti-corrosive nature.

To shed light on the peculiar nature of graphene seen in copper, a research team from Chung-Ang University, Korea, led by Prof Hyungbin Son, studied graphene islands on a copper substrate to analyze the patterns of its corrosion. Prof Son explains, "Graphene is known to be mechanically very strong and impermeable to all gases, including hydrogen. Following studies claiming that the corrosion of copper substrates was accelerated under graphene through various defects, these properties have attracted great attention as an oxidation barrier for metals and have been controversial for over a decade. However, they have not been qualitatively investigated over longer time scales. Thus, we were motivated to study the role of graphene as a corrosion-resistant film at the graphene-copper interface." Prof Son and his team used Raman spectroscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and white light interferometry to observe the trends in copper corrosion for 30 days.

At first, the team detected corrosion developing at the edges, spreading the oxidized form of copper, copper oxide (Cu2O), at various defects such as edges, grain boundaries, and missing atoms. This resulted in the splitting of water vapor, supplying oxygen for the oxidation process, until the entire barrier seemed to be rendered useless and copper was fully corroded underneath. Owing to graphene's effect on ambient water vapor, the protected portion of the copper substrate was more corroded than the unprotected portion. Over time, the formation of Cu2O underneath the graphene sheet dispersed the strain and caused p-doping in graphene--creating a hybrid-like structure. But, after 13 days of exposure to ambient conditions, the team discovered something new. They observed that that the corrosion had significantly slowed down where a new hybrid of graphene and Cu2O layer had formed. Meanwhile, the unprotected copper continued to corrode at a consistent rate, until it had penetrated far deeper than the corrosion under the graphene shield.

These findings show that graphene, in fact, protects copper from deep, penetrating oxidation, unlike what previous studies had concluded. Prof Son explained, "We observed that over a longer time scale (more than 1 year), the graphene-Cu2O hybrid structure became a protective layer against oxidation. The area beyond the graphene was heavily oxidized with CuO, with a depth of ?270 nm."

This study has finally managed to settle the debate on whether graphene can be used to protect copper against oxidation. Prof Son concludes, "For nearly a decade, graphene's anti-corrosive properties have been controversial, with many studies suggesting that graphene accelerates the oxidation of copper (resulting in its corrosion). We have shown for the first time that the graphene-Cu2O hybrid structure, which forms over a long period, significantly slows down the oxidation of copper in the long term, as compared to bare copper."

Only time will reveal more about further applications of graphene as an anti-corrosive material. But one thing is certain--this research has potentially taken down several barriers in using graphene to extend the life of copper.

Tags:  Chung-Ang University  coatings  Corrosion  Graphene  graphene oxide  Hyungbin Son 

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Capillary shrinkage triggers high-density porous structure

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, February 17, 2020
Materials with both a high density and a large surface area are required in many applications, typically for energy storage under a limited space. However, they are hard to obtain by using conventional strategies. In the previous study, Quan-Hong Yang et al. reported that graphene oxide (GO) can be used to produce a porous carbon material with a high density of 1.58 g cm-3 from hydrogel by evaporation-induced drying. However, the shrinkage of hydrogels is not yet clearly illustrated and there is still no full understanding of how the capillary forces work.

Recently, the same group from Tianjin University, China explored the capillary shrinkage of graphene oxide hydrogels in Science China Materials (DOI: 10.1007/s40843-019-1227-7) based on the different surface tension of the trapped solvent.

They chose water and 1,4-dioxane which have a sole difference in surface tension to investigate the mechanism of such a network shrinkage in r-GO hydrogel, and found the surface tension of the evaporating solvent and the associated capillary force regulated by the interfacial interaction between the r-GO sheets and the solvent determined the capillary forces in the nanochannels. Solvents with higher surface tensions generate stronger capillary forces during evaporation, which can compact the r-GO framework into a dense yet porous material. More promisingly, by using solvents with different surface tensions, the microstructure of the resulting materials can be precisely manipulated and densified, realizing an excellent balance of the density and porosity in materials not limited to carbon materials. This work provides a reliable methodology of controlled shrinkage of flexible graphene network and has great potential for high volumetric performance in practical devices.

Tags:  Graphene  graphene oxide  Tianjin University 

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First Graphene's Strong Advances in VFD Development

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, January 28, 2020

First Graphene Limited  is pleased to provide an update of the work conducted in conjunction with 2D Fluidics Pty Ltd on the Vortex Fluidic Device (VFD) at the Company’s facilities at the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre (GEIC) in Manchester, UK and Flinders University

Background Summary on Graphene Oxide
Graphene oxide (GO) is the chemically modified derivative of graphene, whereby the basal planes and edges have been functionalised with oxygen containing functional groups such as hydroxyl, epoxy and carboxyl groups. These oxygen functionalities make GO hydrophilic and therefore dispersible, forming homogenous colloidal suspensions in water and most organic solvents. This makes it ideal for use in a range of applications.

To date, the most widely used process for the synthesis of graphene oxide is Hummer’s method. This typically  requires strong acids and oxidants, such as potassium chlorate (KClO3), nitric acid (HNO3), concentrated sulfuric acid (H2SO4) and potassium permanganate (KMnO4). Much work has been done to improve the synthesis methods while maintaining high surface oxidation, however these all required strong acids and oxidants.

Through its subsidiary 2D Fluidics Pty Ltd, FGR is developing a more benign processing route for oxidised graphene. The objective is to provide controlled levels of surface oxygen functionality to give better easier compatibility in aqueous and organic systems. This will not incur the higher oxygen (and other defect) levels which result from Hummer’s method and its subsequent reduction steps. It will also provide the ability to “tune or optimise” the surface oxidation level to suit respective applications.

FGR’s method synthesises GO directly from bulk graphite using aqueous H2O2 as the green oxidant. Different energy sources have been used for the conversion of H2O2 molecules into more active peroxidic species, such as a combination of a pulsed Nd:YAG laser and/or other light sources. The irradiation promotes the dissociation of H2O2 into hydroxyl radicals which then leads to surface oxidation.

The technology has been successfully transferred to the FGR laboratories at the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre (GEIC) in Manchester where it has undergone further development and optimisation to identify, understand and resolve future upscaling issues.

XPS analysis showed that the use of pre-treatment step in combination with the near infrared laser gave oxidised graphene sheets with an average surface oxidation of ~30- 35%: this will enhance compatibility with aqueous systems.

Further trials have already demonstrated that the two-step process is reproducible and versatile, with the ability to process different starting materials of graphite. The multi- disciplinary team has identified that control of the feed rate and energy input will allow us to control the surface oxidation, providing a consistent material that can be tailored as required for a range of applications.

Figure 5 shows that increase in surface oxygen content for two starting materials: graphite ore (top) and PureGRAPH® graphene (bottom). As we go through the two-  stage process, in both cases the surface oxygen functionality increases. The end- product has a range of functional groups, including C-O, C=O and COOH.

Next Steps
Operating parameters will now be established to provide yield data for future use in scaling the system for commercial production. It will also commence examining the end applications including, but not limited to the use in electronic devices, testing levels of toxicity for biological applications, for water filtration membranes and incorporation in membranes for studying anti-fouling properties.

Craig McGuckin, Managing Director of FGR, said, “The complementary characterisation techniques used to confirm the synthesis of oxidised graphene gives us confidence we are on the right route towards fabricating a material which is comparable to  the historical GO fabricated using the conventional Hummers method. We are  now  reviewing end applications and thus exploring a number of avenues which include but are not limited to the use in devices, testing levels of toxicity for biological applications, for water filtration membranes and incorporation in membranes for studying anti-fouling properties.”

Tags:  2D Fluidics Pty Ltd  2D materials  Craig McGuckin  First Graphene  Flinders University  Graphene  Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre  graphene oxide 

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Researchers probe the critical nucleus size of ice formation with graphene oxide nanosheets

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, January 7, 2020
Water freezing is ubiquitous, with impacts ranging from climate and chemical industry to cryobiology and materials science. Ice nucleation is recognized the controlling step in this process and has for nearly a century been assumed to involve formation of a critical ice nucleus as the central transition state. However, there is no direct experimental evidence for the existence of the critical ice nucleus due to its transient and nanoscale nature.

Recently, a joint research group from the Institute of Chemistry of Chinese Academy of Sciences (ICCAS), University of Chinese Academy of Sciences and Hebei University of Technology, led by Prof. WANG Jianjun, provided much awaited experiment-based information regarding the existence and temperature-dependent size of the critical ice nucleus, which have so far only been explored theoretically and using simulations. The work entitled “Probing the critical nucleus size of ice formation with graphene oxide nanosheets” was published in Nature.

“The work was inspired by the dramatically different behaviors in facilitating ice formation of antifreeze proteins and ice nucleation proteins induced by their primary discriminating factor of size,” the author BAI Guoying says. Researchers initiated their study thorough investigating ice nucleation in water droplets containing graphene oxide nanosheets (GOs) of controlled sizes. The experimental results show that GO significantly facilitate ice nucleation only above a critical size, which varies with the degree of supercooling of the droplets. “We infer from our experimental data and theoretical calculations that this value is determined by the size of the critical ice nucleus. For sufficiently large GOs, it sits on their surface and the corresponding nucleation free energy barrier is consistent with classical nucleation theory. In contrast, when the size of GOs is smaller than that of the critical ice nucleus, pinning at the GO periphery forces the forming critical ice nucleus to change shape and thereby gives rise to a much higher nucleation free energy barrier and failure to promote ice nucleation,” the author ZHOU Xin Says. “As pinning of a pre-critical nucleus at a nanoparticle edge is not specific to the ice nucleus on GOs, we expect that our approach can also be used to probe the critical nucleus of other nucleation processes,” WANG says.

The work is supported by NSFC, National Key R&D Program of China and the Strategic Priority Research Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Tags:  Chinese Academy of Sciences  Graphene  graphene oxide  Hebei University of Technology  nanosheets  University of Chinese Academy of Sciences  WANG Jianjun  ZHOU Xin 

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Robust electrodes could pave the way to lighter electric vehicles

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, December 3, 2019
One of the biggest remaining problems facing electric vehicles – whether they are road-going, waterborne or flying – is weight. Vehicles must carry their energy storage, and in the case of electric vehicles this inevitably means batteries.

No matter how many advances electrical engineers make in improving energy density, batteries remain dense and heavy components, and this is a drag on vehicle performance.

One approach to reducing the weight of electric vehicles might be to incorporate energy storage into the structure of the vehicle itself, thereby distributing the mass all over the vehicle and reducing the need for a single large battery or even eliminating it altogether.

The stumbling block to this approach is that materials that are good for energy storage and release tend to have properties that are not useful for structural applications: they are often brittle, which has obvious safety implications.

A team led by a Texas A&M University chemical engineer, Jodie Lutkenhaus, now claims to have made progress towards solving this problem using an approach inspired by brain chemistry and a trick employed by shellfish to stick themselves to rocks.

In a paper in the journal Matter, Lutkenhaus and her colleagues explain how their studies of redox active polymers for energy storage led them to investigate the properties of dopamine, most familiar as a signal-carrying molecule in the brain involved in movement, but also a very sticky substance that mimics proteins found in the material that mussels use to fasten themselves tightly to any surface underwater.

The team used dopamine to functionalise – that is, chemically bond to – graphene oxide, and then combine this material into a composite with aramid fibres, better known as Kevlar. This composite is both strong and tough, with a structure and properties similar to the famously tough natural material nacre or mother-of-pearl, and the graphene in its structure conveys both lightness and electrical properties that make it useful as an electrode.

The researchers describe using this material to form the electrodes for a super capacitor, a kind of energy storage device which can be charged and discharged very quickly.

The paper reports the highest ever multifunctional efficiency (a metric which evaluates material based on both its mechanical and electrochemical performance) for graphene-based materials.

Tags:  batteries  electric vehicle  energy storage  Graphene  graphene oxide  Jodie Lutkenhaus  Journal Matter  mimics proteins  polymers  super capacitor  Texas A&M University 

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Graphene mapping 50 times faster

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, November 26, 2019
If we want to be able to create new and innovative components of two-dimensional materials like graphene, we need tools to characterize their quality. Raman spectroscopy is the gold standard for this, but its major disadvantage is the low speed. Apart from that, the laser light can also damage some of the two-dimensional materials. University of Twente researchers added a smart algorithm to the detection, resulting in ‘Raman’ working at least fifty times faster and making it more ‘gentle’ to sensitive materials. The research is presented in National Science Review.

Graphene is always raising high expectations, as a strong, ultrathin, two-dimensional material that could also be the basis for new components in information technology. There is huge need for characterization of graphene devices. This can be done using Raman spectroscopy. Laser light is sent to the material sample, and scattered photons tell us about the rotations and vibrations of the molecules inside, and thus about the crystal structure. On average, only around 1 in 10 million photons is scattered in this way. This not only makes it hard to detect the right information, it is also very slow: it may take half a second to image one single pixel. The question is if Raman still remains the best option, or if there are better alternatives. UT researchers Sachin Nair and Jun Gao keep Raman spectroscopy as a starting point, but manage to improve the speed drastically: not by changing the technique itself, but by adding an algorithm.

NOISE REDUCTION
This algorithm is not unknown in the world  of signal processing and it is called Principal Component Analysis. It is used  to improve the signal-to-noise ratio. PCA determines the characteristics of noise and those of the 'real' signal. The larger the dataset, the more reliable this recognition is, and the clearer the actual signal can be distinguished. Apart from that, modern Raman instruments have a detector called electron-multiplying charge-coupled device (EMCCD) that improves the signal-to-noise-ratio. The net result of this work is that processing one pixel doesn’t take half a second, but only 10 milliseconds or less. Mapping a single sample doesn't take hours anymore.An important feature for vulnerable materials like graphene oxide is that the intensity of the laser can be lowered two or three times. These are major steps ahead for getting a fast grip on the materials’ properties.                                                                                                              

MULTI-PURPOSE
Except for graphene, the improved Raman technique can also be used for other two dimensional materials like germanene, silicene, molybdenum disulfide, tungsten disulfide and boron nitride. Use of the algorithm is not limited to Raman spectroscopy; techniques like Atomic Force Microscopy and other hyperspectral techniques could also benefit from it.

The research has been done in the group Physics of Complex Fluids of Prof Frieder Mugele, part of UT’s MESA+ Institute. The researchers collaborated with the Medical Cell BioPhysics group and the Physics of Interfaces and Nanomaterials group, both of the University of Twente as well.

Tags:  Frieder Mugele  Graphene  graphene oxide  Jun Gao  Sachin Nair  University of Twente 

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ZEN Graphene Solutions Reports Preliminary Results for Graphene Aerogel Battery Tests

Posted By Graphene Council, Tuesday, November 26, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, November 26, 2019
ZEN Graphene Solutions and its research partner, Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt are pleased to report on additional encouraging results from their battery development program led by Dr. Lukas Bichler and his team at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan Campus (UBC-O). UBC-O has created a Graphene Aerogel composite anode material using a proprietary aerogel formulation containing doping with either ZEN’s reduced Graphene Oxide (rGO) or Graphene Preliminary results indicate that relatively low loadings (<5 wt.%) of graphene-based material, combined with this proprietary aerogel structure, can result in an anode with a significant specific discharge capacity. 

Preliminary best results were achieved with a 2 wt.% loading of Graphene dispersed in aerogel and resulted in an initial specific discharge capacity of 2800 mAh/g and a discharge capacity of 1300 mAh/g after 50 cycles at a current capacity of 186 mA/g. These unoptimized results are believed to be better than those currently reported in the literature for Graphene Aerogel batteries. DLR and ZEN will present a poster of the battery results at the Batterieforum in Berlin, Germany in January 2020. Graphene-containing aerogels could have the potential to be a low-cost, low-weight, high-performance composite materials for near future energy storage applications.

DLR has applied for and received federal funding from the Helmholtz Association to create a new Helmholtz Innovation Lab, called ZAIT, or the Center for Aerogels in Industry and Technology, which will be working together with industrial partners on the development of Aerogels. ZEN supported this application with a letter of intent indicating the Company would continue to collaborate with DLR in developing graphene-based aerogel batteries and other graphene-based products.

“Our work with the team at DLR has led to very promising research and we look forward to continuing this research both at UBC-O and within the new Center for Aerogels in Industry and Technology (ZAIT), a Helmholtz Innovation Lab” commented ZEN CEO Dr. Francis Dubé. Also, Dr. Bichler indicated that “this partnership brings together expertise from Canada and Germany to jointly develop high-tech energy storage systems, which are currently not available on the market”.

Tags:  Batteries  Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt  Energy Storage  Francis Dubé  Graphene  graphene oxide  Lukas Bichler  University of British Columbia  ZEN Graphene Solutions 

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The Graphene Flagship Means Business

Posted By Graphene Council, Saturday, October 19, 2019

Leiden University spin-off, Crucell, is a world-famous biotechnology company. Johnson & Johnson acquired the business for close to $2.4 billion back in 2011. This mammoth sum of money highlights the potential of university or corporate spin-offs and their investment attraction.

There is a growing appetite for spin-offs and SMEs that have grown out of research. Here are four SMEs that are setting the pace in graphene and related materials (GRM) commercialisation in the Graphene Flagship.

EMBERION

Emberion develops and produces graphene photonics and electronics that revolutionise infrared photodetectors and thermal sensors. Applications include hyperspectral and thermal imaging, night vision and X-ray detection.

The business was a spin off company from Nokia. Following a long history of graphene research inside Nokia’s research organisation, the team joined the Graphene Flagship to take the work carried out on optoelectronics to the commercial market.

“Emberion was established in quite an early phase of product development,” explained Tapani Ryhänen, CEO of Emberion. “We had promising results and functional prototypes from our research and above all, we were able to get an agreement with venture capital investors.

"Emberion is focusing on various spectrometer and machine vision applications by producing novel image sensors. We provide products with broad wavelength range and low noise. Our image sensors can be used for example in agriculture, food processing and pharma industries."

During the next year, Emberion will start delivering its first imager products. The business will also commence with the Graphene Flagship GBIRCAM spearhead project, together with its partners, to bolster the readiness of graphene-enabled optoelectronics in industry.

GRAPHENEA

World leading graphene producer Graphenea, founded in 2010, was one of the first industrial partners to join the Graphene Flagship program. Graphenea participated in the proposal stages of the Graphene Flagship, collaborating closely since the inception of the EU-funded program.Business is booming for Graphenea. In 2018, the business generated €1.6 million, and is on track to grow by 25% in 2019.

Graphenea’s facilities are located in San Sebastián, Spain and Boston, USA. The 25 employees at Graphenea contribute to the successful development of graphene applications, including supplying CVD Graphene films, Graphene Field-Effect-Transistors chips (GFETs), Graphene Foundry Services (GFAB) and Graphene Oxides. Graphenea’s operation spans across more than 60 countries and a wide range of sectors.

“The collaboration between Graphenea and the Graphene Flagship has evolved over the last six years,” explained Iñigo Charola, business development director at Graphenea. “Our work has become incredibly industry-orientated, with focused spearhead projects to bring applications to market quickly and effectively.”

“Today, we are focusing not only on the production of graphene, but also developing our processing capabilities of the material. Our partnership with the Graphene Flagship provides the support to help reach this goal.” 

BEDIMENSIONAL

BeDimensional produces and develops graphene and 2D crystals for the manufacturing and energy industries. Its main target applications relate to coatings and paints and material production for energy applications.

As a start-up, BeDimensional was created as a spin-off company of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologica (IIT).

The research group started out their research in fundamental studies of electronic properties of two-dimensional semiconductor systems. They were also investigating some possibilities to tune the interaction of hydrogen and carbon by curving a graphene sheet. For this latter study, the team were approached in the initial stages of the Graphene Flagship project to set-up a work package on hydrogen storage.

After a two-year incubation period within the institute itself, BeDimensional moved onto the market after the acquisition of 51% of its shares by the Camponovo. The definitive push towards the path of industrialisation came at the end of 2018, after the €18 million investment from Pellan Group.

So, what’s next for BeDimensional?
After closing this round of investment, BeDimensional is now fully immersed in implementing its industrial and commercial strategies. The first production line of two-dimensional crystals is already operational and the business is in the process of setting up more laboratories for research and development.

“We need to strategically position ourselves at the right level of the industrial value chains linked to each specific application,” explained Vittorio Pellegrini, founder and scientific advisor for BeDimensional. “We believe it is crucial to establish partnerships and joint ventures with appropriate global players. At the same time, we will reinforce our investment in R&D by attracting the best people on board.”

BeDimensional has a clear mission and knows how it’s going to reach its business goals. Watch this space. 

VERSARIEN

Versarien, headquartered in Cheltenham, UK, is an engineering solutions company that delivers novel technologies for industrial applications. Through subsidiary companies, Versarien delivers targeted solutions as well as research and development into new, complementary technologies.

Versarien was founded in 2010 and has been an associate member of the Graphene Flagship since 2018, collaborating closely with researchers in the project.

The company has acquired multiple businesses under the Versarien group, including two spin-offs from high-profile universities carrying out graphene research.

In 2014, 2-DTech joined the group. 2-DTech was originally formed by the University of Manchester to manufacture and supply high quality graphene for research and development. It has now grown into a commercial operation not only supplying high grade graphene and other 2-D materials, but also working on the application of graphene in product development projects.

In 2017, Versarien acquired Cambridge Graphene Ltd. from the University of Cambridge. Cambridge Graphene develops inks, composites and supercapacitors based on graphene and related materials, using processes developed at the Cambridge Graphene Centre.

The Cambridge Graphene Centre’s mission is to investigate the science and technology of graphene and other carbon allotropes, layered crystals and hybrid nanomaterials. The spin-out company has commercialised graphene inks for novel technology applications.

These two Graphene Flagship spin-offs join the numerous other companies in the Versarien group, creating a real force to be reckoned with for graphene commercialisation and business growth.

Tags:  BeDimensional  Cambridge Graphene Centre  CVD  Emberion  Graphene  Graphene Flagship  graphene oxide  Graphenea  Iñigo Charola  Leiden University  Tapani Ryhänen  Versarien  Vittorio Pellegrini 

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Light-driven artificial muscle made with nanomaterials

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, April 22, 2019
Updated: Saturday, April 20, 2019

Reporting their findings in Advanced Materials ("Plasmonic-Assisted Graphene Oxide Artificial Muscles"), researchers in China have developed a plasmonic-assisted holistic artificial muscle that can independently act as a fully functional motor system without assembling or joints.

The artificial muscle's low-cost integrated design consists of a composite layer uniform bilayer configuration made of gold nanorods embedded in graphene oxide or reduced graphene oxide and a thermally expansive polymer layer (PMMA).

The gold nanorods of varying aspect ratios endow the graphene nanocomposites with tunable wavelength response. This enables the fabrication of a light-sensitive artificial muscle that can perform complex limb-like motions without joints.

Combining the synergistic effect of the gold nanorods' high plasmonic property and wavelength selectivity with graphene's good flexibility and thermal conductivity, the artificial muscle can implement full-function motility without further integration, which is reconfigurable through wavelength-sensitive light activation.

Upon photothermal heating, the mismatch between the deformations of two layers leads to significant bending, replicating the muscle-like contraction from one layer and expansion from the other.

To demonstrate the light-addressable manipulation of complicated multiped robot, the team developed a holistic spider robot.

They patterned each leg of the spider with three nodes (see figure g above). Despite that the spider has been patterned on 2D film, it can deform into 3D structures under light irradiation due to the bending of its legs.

When the laser beam irradiates the legs one by one, the legs bend one after another, which induced the displacement of the gravity center of the spider accordingly. In this way, the researchers could control the spider robot to lean forward and move toward the right direction at an average speed of 2.5 mm per second.

The authors conclude that their work bridges the gap between ideal request and realistic restrictions of biomimetic motor systems, and decreases the amount of discrete parts, the number of postprocessing steps, and the fabrication time, and thereby offers new opportunities for biological aid and for biomimetic mini robots to be remotely operated.

Tags:  artificial muscle  Graphene  graphene oxide  nanocomposites 

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