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Pitt Engineer Maintains a Laser Focus to Grow Nanocarbons on Flexible Devices

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Fabrication of flexible and wearable electronics often requires integrating various types of advanced carbon nanomaterials - such as graphene, nanotubes, and nanoporous carbon - because of their remarkable electrical, thermal, and chemical properties. However, the extreme environments needed to chemically synthesize these nanomaterials means they can only be fabricated on rigid surfaces that can withstand high temperatures. Printing already-made nanocarbons onto flexible polymeric materials is generally the only option, but limits the potential customization.

To overcome this limitation, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering are investigating a new scalable manufacturing method for creating customizable types of nanocarbons on-demand - directly where they are needed - on flexible materials.

The research is led by Mostafa Bedewy, assistant professor of industrial engineering at Pitt, who received a $244,748 EAGER award from the National Science Foundation in support of this effort. The project, “Transforming Flexible Device Manufacturing by Bottom-up Growth of Nanocarbons Directly on Polymers,” will enable patterning functional nanocarbons needed for a number of emerging flexible-device applications in healthcare, energy, and consumer electronics.

Bedewy’s group is already working on another NSF-funded project that utilizes a custom-designed reactor to grow “nanotube forests” through a process called chemical vapor deposition (CVD). This enables the synthesis of carbon nanotubes from catalyst nanoparticles by the decomposition of carbon-containing gases. The process, however, is not suitable for growing nanocarbons directly onto commercial polymers.

“When we grow nanocarbons by CVD on silicon, it requires temperatures exceeding 700 degrees Celsius, in the presence of hydrocarbon gases and hydrogen,” explained Bedewy, who leads the NanoProduct Lab in the Swanson School's Department of Industrial Engineering. “While silicon can tolerate those conditions, polymers can’t, so CVD is out of the question.”

Instead, Bedewy’s group will utilize a laser in a similar way that common laser engraving machines function. When manufacturing flexible devices, current methods of printing carbon on polymers are limited in scalability and patterning resolution. This new laser-based method addresses these limitations. 

Rather than printing graphene from graphene ink, nanotubes from nanotube ink, and so on, the polymer material itself will act as the carbon source in the new process, and different types of nanocarbons can then grow from the polymer, like grass in a lawn - but instead of using sunlight, through a controlled laser.

“This approach allows us to control the carbon atomic structure, nanoscale morphology, and properties precisely in a scalable way,” said Bedewy. “Our research provides a tremendous opportunity to rapidly customize the type of nanocarbon needed for different devices on the same substrate without the need for multiple inks and successive printing steps.”

Producing functional nanocarbons in this manner will also enable high-rate roll-to-roll processing, which can potentially make manufacturing flexible electronics as fast and as inexpensive as printing newspapers.

“The multi-billion dollar global market for flexible electronics is still in its infancy, and is expected to grow exponentially because of accelerating demand in many applications,” Bedewy said “Exploring potentially transformative carbon nanomanufacturing processes is critical for realizing cutting-edge technologies.”

Tags:  Chemical Vapour Deposition  Electronics  Graphene  Mostafa Bedewy  nanomaterials  polymer  University of Pittsburgh 

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First Graphene’s Ability to Supply High-Quality Graphene at Volume Secures a Supply Contract

Posted By Graphene Council, Wednesday, May 27, 2020
First Graphene Ltd, the leading global producer of advanced graphene products, has signed an exclusive supply agreement with planarTECH (Holdings) Ltd, a global leader in graphene process equipment and graphene-enabled products.  First Graphene will supply high-quality PureGRAPH® nanoplatelets in large-scale volumes for use in planarTECH’s coating formulation for face masks and PPE.  

Under the supply contract, planarTECH will exclusively source graphene additives from First Graphene over a 2-year term with the agreed initial minimum quantity to be 1000kg in the first year.  A further 2 terms to follow the initial term included in the contract.

First Graphene recently partnered with planarTECH to develop a robust supply chain for the manufacture of innovative graphene-enhanced personal protective equipment.  Initial testing of PureGRAPH® has been completed and planarTECH will use this product in their proprietary coating to provide anti-static and bacteria-resistant properties to their range of face masks.

planarTECH has been experiencing increased demand for these products as world populations seek protection from airborne infection.

First Graphene has a well-established and robust supply chain for the manufacture of their high performing PureGRAPH® graphene products and have an already proven successful formulation that disperses uniformly into polymer coatings.

Craig McGuckin, Managing Director for First Graphene Ltd., said, “planarTECH have moved very quickly to test and commercialise their new range of graphene face masks and we are delighted to enter this contract to support the growth of their business.  Clearly, further opportunities exist in the development of planarTECH’s other PPE equipment.”

Ray Gibbs, Chairman for planarTECH (Holdings) Ltd., said, “We have experienced substantial, rapid and qualified enquiries for the graphene mask.  The 35 or so we are pursuing all require a fast turnaround of 2-3 weeks where potential orders could be very significant.  This increasing demand has meant we needed to secure a robust graphene supply to ensure we met the known market demand.  We have been impressed with the speed of response and high quality, consistent product from First Graphene which is crucial in urgently supplying this much needed product across the world.”

Tags:  coatings  Craig McGuckin  FIrst Graphene  Graphene  planarTECH  polymer  Ray Gibbs 

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First Graphene Ltd and Hexcyl to Collaborate on HDPE Project

Posted By Graphene Council, Thursday, May 7, 2020
First Graphene Limited is pleased to advise that Hexcyl is collaborating with the Company to develop PureGRAPH® enhanced HDPE materials for use in Hexcyl’s range of oyster baskets and long-line farming systems.

High-density polyethylene (HDPE) is a thermoplastic polymer produced from the monomer ethylene. With a high strength-to-density ratio, HDPE is used in the production of plastic bottles, corrosion-resistant piping, geomembranes and plastic timbers.

The incorporation of high-performing PureGRAPH® additives will seek to improve the mechanical properties of the HDPE, while at the same time provide greater longevity of the systems in high energy farming environments.

Hexcyl Systems offer oyster farmers and shellfish farmers a wide range of shellfish aquaculture products designed for Adjustable Longline Shellfish Farming and other tidal systems. The products are manufactured in Australia and sold globally.

PureGRAPH® additives will be supplied to Hexcyl’s masterbatch and injection moulding companies over the next two weeks.

Craig McGuckin, Managing Director for First Graphene Ltd., said, “Working with Hexcyl Systems with their requirement for additional mechanical improvement is yet another industry where PureGRAPH® may provide benefits to material enhancement”.

Tags:  Craig McGuckin  First Graphene  Graphene  Hexcyl Systems  Polymer 

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Alfaisal University: Graphene Research that Breaks the Mould

Posted By Graphene Council, Friday, May 1, 2020
When we talk about technological advancements transforming the way we live, our focus is often on the digital revolution, such as the effects of artificial intelligence and smart technologies. But within physics and chemistry, research into nanomaterials is creating equally profound and important changes in the physical world.

Edreese Alsharaeh, professor of chemistry at Alfaisal University in Saudi Arabia, works with graphene-based composites that are synthesised with nanoparticulate matter to enhance their physiochemical properties. He believes that every aspect of our lives – and almost every product that we use – could be transformed by the application of nanomaterials and likens their discovery to the synthesis of the first polymers. “Almost 100 years ago, the use of polymers had a major, major impact on our daily life,” he says. “We replaced steel. We replaced aluminium. We preserved a lot of natural resources. Nanomaterials nowadays are like polymers 100 years ago. In my line of work, it is the synergetic effect when adding a small percentage of this graphene into the polymer that can do magic.”

Of course, there is no magic, but nanomaterials are perhaps as close to sorcery as contemporary chemistry gets. As Professor Alsharaeh explains, nanomaterials have an inordinately high surface-to-volume ratio compared with materials composed of larger particles, and are thus more reactive, with nano-enhanced materials dramatically more efficient in their design. In some respects, nanotechnology builds on the fundamentals already established by the physical sciences, such as Professor Alsharaeh’s work with graphene and silver composites.

Silver has antimicrobial physiochemical properties capable of killing a wide range of bacteria and fungi, which is why wound dressings often incorporate it as a means of reducing the risk of infection. But by using graphene and silver nanocomposites, these antimicrobial properties can be achieved using far less silver. This, explains Professor Alsharaeh, is a “synergetic effect” that can make a graphene composite with 5 per cent of silver nanoparticles behave with the same antimicrobial properties as 100 per cent silver. Because graphene is flexible, these composites can be used in biomedical contexts such as engineering next-generation bone cement for hip surgery, where infection can be a major cause of morbidity, because the physical demands placed on hips require super-durable orthopaedic solutions.

“We need a product that can stop clinical problems such as infection when you do implants,” says Professor Alsharaeh. “We chose the silver and the graphene because graphene is stronger than steel yet elastic. In our product, the toughness increases 70 per cent and the elasticity is increased by 150 per cent, all from adding 2 per cent graphene.”

With multiple drug resistant bacteria increasingly a problem, finding novel strategies for combatting hospital infections is also a priority for medical science. This is an area where the antimicrobial properties of both graphene and silver might provide the answer; and so it is the focus of extensive research at Professor Alsharaeh’s lab, where graphene and silver have been found to be effective in disinfecting MDR bacteria and E. coli, with the electronic structure of graphene in particular inhibiting bacteria growth. Everyday medical apparatus could incorporate nanocomposites of graphene and silver to stop the spread of infection.

“This composite is very good for coating biomedical devices, which is something that is a major deal when you use a catheter, for example,” says Professor Alsharaeh. “People are [developing an] infection and I think when we coat [devices] with some kind of material like this, that will change. This is in our product development phase now, in addition to the bone cement. Graphene has the potential to revolutionise nanocomposite materials. That it can be anchored with any number of nanoparticles only enhances its versatility and increases the number of real-world applications it could be used for. It is strong, flexible and thermoconductive. “You can make any device out of it,” says Professor Alsharaeh. “It can be used as a substrate for multifunctional properties.”

As he explains, graphene’s structure – with carbon atoms bonded in a flat, hexagonal lattice – is key. Because it is a two-dimensional structure, it restricts electrons to movements along an X or Y axis, and this confinement creates energy that endows graphene with useful optical and electronic properties. “Its electronic properties are actually one of the most attractive things about the graphene,” says Professor Alsharaeh, who adds that graphene can conduct electricity up to 150 times faster than silicon, and be used for superconductors and to manufacture dramatically more efficient integrated circuits for computer processing.

The goal for Professor Alsharaeh’s lab at Alfaisal is to take this research into product development as soon as possible. Besides its medical applications, Alfaisal has a patent with oil and gas giant Saudi Aramco on a graphene-based product that is in the process of commercialisation. “The Kingdom puts a lot of resources in,” says Professor Alsharaeh. “From 2010, since I came to Saudi Arabia…there has been major funding for all scientists, which is a major plan for this energy sector.” With agriculture, medicine, energy and textiles sectors all set to reap the benefits of nanotechnology, the commercial potential of graphene nanocomposites is invaluable.

Professor Alsharaeh adds that he is a chemist, and his passion is for discovery and teaching. “It is very, very rewarding for me to see [that some students] have now finished their PhDs and are making their way in the world,” he says. “This is also about building the culture for future scientists. And I think nanotechnology is the future for all future-first technologies.”

That future will still be shaped by the digital revolution, but when the smart devices in our pockets, homes, workplaces and hospitals are all enhanced by nanomaterials, perhaps that future should be considered a joint venture with nanotechnology.

Tags:  Alfaisal University  Edreese Alsharaeh  Graphene  nanocomposites  nanomaterials  Polymer 

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Graphene reinforced carbon fibers

Posted By Graphene Council, Saturday, April 25, 2020
The superlative strength-to-weight ratio of carbon fibers (CFs) can substantially reduce vehicle weight and improve energy efficiency. However, most CFs are derived from costly polyacrylonitrile (PAN), which limits their widespread adoption in the automotive industry. Extensive efforts to produce CFs from low cost, alternative precursor materials have failed to yield a commercially viable product. Here, we revisit PAN to study its conversion chemistry and microstructure evolution, which might provide clues for the design of low-cost CFs. We demonstrate that a small amount of graphene can minimize porosity/defects and reinforce PAN-based CFs. 

Our experimental results show that 0.075 weight % graphene-reinforced PAN/graphene composite CFs exhibits 225% increase in strength and 184% enhancement in Young’s modulus compared to PAN CFs. Atomistic ReaxFF and large-scale molecular dynamics simulations jointly elucidate the ability of graphene to modify the microstructure by promoting favorable edge chemistry and polymer chain alignment.

Tags:  Graphene  Graphene Composite  Polymer 

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MITO Material Solutions To Present at Industry Events and Conferences

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, February 24, 2020
MITO Materials, creator of hybrid polymer modifiers that increase the durability, flexibility, and performance of polymer composites, is announcing that the Company will take part three different industry conferences and events this Spring.

Since participating in The Heritage Group accelerator powered by Techstars in Indianapolis, IN, MITO Materials has seen a significant increase in customer on boarding for product integration into various fiber-reinforced thermoset and thermoplastic components as well as graphene-enhanced coatings. Performance data from these customers indicate that MITO’s products could extend the limitations and improve recyclability of materials used in high performance applications.

Caio Lo Sardo, Head of Business Development, says, “We are committed to engaging with customers pushing the boundaries with their current offerings to offer a better tomorrow, together.Our product offerings will further enable formulators and manufacturers to make their fiber-reinforced thermosets and thermoplastics a more viable, higher performing option.

MITO Materials will take part in six leading international industry events:

• JEC World 2020, based in Paris, France (3-5 March 2020)
• Open Minds (19-21 March 2020)
• The American Coatings Show, based in Indianapolis (30 March – 02 April 2020)
• Bicentennial Sponsored Conference: Beyond Boundaries: Indiana Academies Symposium (3-4 April 2020)
• World Adhesives Conference (20-22 April 2020)
• SAMPE 2020, based in Seattle (4-7 May 2020), Dr. Bhishma Sedai will be presenting a technology paper at this event.

Tags:  Caio Lo Sardo  coatings  Graphene  MITO Material Solutions  Plastics  Polymer 

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Growing nano-tailored surfaces using micellar brushes

Posted By Graphene Council, Monday, December 2, 2019

Growing nanoscale polymer brushes on materials' surfaces overcomes a key challenge in surface chemistry, researchers report, creating a new way to fabricate a diverse array of materials that could hold advanced uses in catalysis or chemical separation applications, for example. Their approach represents a crucial step forward in the search for simple and general techniques to create functional surfaces with tailor-made chemical properties, writes Alejandro Presa Soto in a related Perspective; "Pandora's box is now open, and the limits of this approach are only restricted by the imagination and skills of the scientific community." As technology advances, the ability to create advanced materials with specific surface properties and functionalities is becoming critically significant in a wide variety of areas including chemical engineering and biomedicine.

One recently developed approach for creating functionalized surfaces makes use of polymer chains, grafted to surfaces in brush-like patches. However limited, the method allows for tailoring of the surface chemistry at the molecular level. Similar approaches using nano- or micron-scale structures hold great promise for greatly expanded functionality and applications; however, the precise fabrication of these surfaces remains a prohibitive challenge. Jiandon Cai and colleagues address this by growing nanoscale micellar brushes directly on a material's surface. Cai et al. attached small crystalline micelle-seeds on a variety of surfaces, including silicon wafers, graphene oxide nanosheets and gold nanoparticles.

Unimers are used to initiate the crystallization-driven growth of well-defined cylindrical nanostructures over the seed-coated surface. The approach allows for the precise control over the density, length and chemistry of the micellar brushes, which can further be outfitted with other functional molecules and nanoparticles to enable a variety of catalysis and antibacterial and chemical separation applications.

Tags:  Alejandro Presa Soto  biomedicine  Graphene  Jiandon Cai  micellar brushes  nanoparticles  nanoscale  polymer  silicon wafers 

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UPDATED ARTICLE: First Graphene's PureGRAPH™ is Demonstrated In A Real-World Application In The Mining Industry

Posted By Terrance Barkan, Wednesday, November 28, 2018
Updated: Friday, October 26, 2018

On 26 October 2018 we reported that the advanced materials company, First Graphene Ltd (“FGR”) (ASX: FGR) released an update on the use of its PureGRAPH™ products in the mining services sector.

FGR has now followed up with a confirmed purchase order for 2,000 kg of their PureGRAPH™ material to be delivered during 2019, for use in the Armour-GRAPH™ product range in a mining equipment application. 

The purchase order for 2,000kg of PureGRAPH™ range products from newGen for delivery during 2019, represents a significant development not only for FGR, but also for the broader graphene market. It demonstrates the initial market appetite for high quality bulk graphene products of the type in which FGR specialises. Up until now the graphene sector has been supplying mostly samples for evaluation. This order represents a step change in the business as it starts to scale up for larger size orders.

Pleasingly, the premium price to be received pursuant to the order debunks the myth that graphene is expensive. The productivity benefits and material performance improvements experienced when PureGRAPHTM is added to materials more than compensate for the cost of the graphene, and it underpins the pricing strategy employed by First Graphene.

As previously reported (see article below) FGR is working closely with newGen Group to provide performance enhancement to their existing products with the addition of PureGRAPH™ graphene products. newGen Group has recently introduced a branded Amour-GRAPH™ product range of wear liners for bucket wheel, pipe spools and conveyor heavy equipment applications.

In a recent development, the Company was pleased to confirm further progress in its R&D collaboration with newGen Group. newGen is supplying a wear lining system for dryer chute applications to a large Australian cement producer in their Perth facility. It is a leading supplier of cement and lime to the Western Australia’s mining, agriculture and construction industries.

Each 50m2 liner will contain 10 to 12kg of PureGRAPH™ and is a further significant step in the adoption of First Graphene products into large industrial applications. PureGRAPH™ has been demonstrated to provide up to 37% improved tensile strength and improve abrasion resistance by 100% to 500% in high performance polyurethanes.

newGen has now issued a purchase order for 2,000kg (2 tonnes) of PureGRAPHTM to be drawn down as it wins tenders during 2019. There is one final regulatory approval required before the first sale is effected, being the registration of graphene by the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) in Australia.

Similarly, the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) needs to be completed for sales in the European Union. These registration processes are currently underway and they are not expected to provide any meaningful delays.

The National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) registration process is required for all chemicals used in industry in Australia. Within the European Union REACH registration is required if an organisation plans to sell greater than one tonne of a chemical within the EU or United Kingdom. First Graphene Ltd has already joined the consortium which is registering graphene as a new chemical. The consortium consists of three graphene organisations, one from China, one from Canada and one European producer.

Managing Director, Craig McGuckin, stated: “We said that we were the world’s leading graphene company, and we are now proving it with this sales order – the start of many. We do not believe there is another company which could deliver both the volume and the consistent quality this order requires. We are now entering an exciting growth phase as industries all around the world are starting to look at ways in which they can use graphene to improve their products and lower their operating costs”.

newGen Managing Director, Ben Walker stated: “My Company has had considerable interest generated for our new Armour-GRAPH™ range since we started developing PureGRAPH enhanced products with First Graphene. The graphene enhanced resin was added seamlessly into our mixing procedure. It is not labour intensive or complicated with regard to our standard operating practices.”


FGR is working closely with a number of companies to demonstrate performance enhancement of their products through the addition of its PureGRAPH™ graphene products. In this case, the wear-life of mining equipment can be extended with the inclusion of PureGRAPH™ graphene into protective polymer linings.

The rapid progress made with these polymer linings was enabled by the high consistency of PureGRAPH™ products and the ease of dispersion into the polymer resin. The know-how being acquired is readily transferable to a vast range of other polymer products, in many industries. The suitability of the PureGRAPH™ is particularly pleasing as it confirms this is a commercially superior product.

It is expected that, as manufacturing companies start to witness the improvements that graphene can offer, there will be an acceleration of demand for supplies of PureGRAPH™. First Graphene is well-positioned to satisfy the demand as it enters an exciting growth phase.

  • PureGRAPH™ graphene has been successfully incorporated into a high volume application in the mining sector. 
  • A full scale mining reclaimer bucket was cast for an on-site trial with a multi-national mining company 
  • Test work has confirmed PureGRAPH™ readily disperses into the polymer resin used 
  • Further bucket linings will be cast and sold for use in northern Australia with a multi-national mining group 
  • PureGRAPH™ enhanced polymer liners for a range of associated applications will also be trialled 
  • This success with a graphene-enhanced bucket lining will open an important growth curve for graphene enhanced rubbers and composites
  • There are 12 buckets on the wheel for the machine these buckets are destined for, each with a capacity is 2.2 m3. The reclaimer has a nominal machine capacity is 12,000 tph and maximum capacity is 14,500 tph in bauxite.




As announced in June 2018 FGR is working with newGen Group on equipment used in the mining industry to improve polyurethane liners to protect them from excessive abrasion and increase their useful life. 


Since then FGR and newGen have conducted various tests using PureGRAPH™ in polyurethane to determine the best suited PureGRAPH™ product and the optimum quantity to be added. These tests have demonstrated that the PureGRAPH™ product provides significantly increased flexural strength to the base polyurethane product. 


newGen have now cast a liner for a Sandvik reclaimer bucket using PureGRAPH™ 20 and are now working with FGR on the use of a PureGRAPH™ enhance polyurethane in other high volume mining applications in the iron ore industry where newGen are preferred supplier.


FGR Managing Director, Craig McGuckin, stated: “Achieving the creation of this bucket liner for a multi-national end user is a credit to Ben’s foresight and the team at FGR.” 


newGen’s Ben Walker stated: “We are pleased to be at the forefront of graphene use in mining materials. It has been excellent to work with the calibre of people at First Graphene in this march towards supplying our valued clients with ground breaking, high performance materials.”


About First Graphene Ltd (ASX: FGR) 

First Graphene has established a commercial graphene production facility for the bulk scale manufacture of graphene at competitive prices. The Company continues to develop graphene related intellectual property from which it intends to generate licence and royalty payments. 


The Company has collaboration arrangements with four universities and is at the cutting edge of graphene and 2D related material developments. Most recently First Graphene has become a Tier 1 participant in the Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre (GEIC) of the University of Manchester. First Graphene is working with numerous industry partners for the commercialisation of graphene and is building a sales book with these industry partners. 


PureGRAPH™ Range of Products 

The PureGRAPH™ range of products were released by FGR in September 2018, in conjunction with a detailed Product Information Sheet. PureGRAPH™ graphene powders are available with lateral platelet sizes of 20μm, 10μm and 5μm. The products are characterised by their low defect level and high aspect ratio. 


About Graphene 

Graphene, the well-publicised and now famous two-dimensional carbon allotrope, is as versatile a material as any discovered on Earth. Its amazing properties as the lightest and strongest material, compared with its ability to conduct heat and electricity better than anything else, means it can be integrated into a huge number of applications. Initially this will mean graphene is used to help improve the performance and efficiency of current materials and substances, but in the future, it will also be developed in conjunction with other two-dimensional (2D) crystals to create some even more amazing compounds to suit an even wider range of applications. 


One area of research which is being very highly studied is energy storage. Currently, scientists are working on enhancing the capabilities of lithium ion batteries (by incorporating graphene as an anode) to offer much higher storage capacities with much better longevity and charge rate. Also, graphene is being studied and developed to be used in the manufacture of supercapacitors which can be charged very quickly, yet also be able to store a large amount of electricity. 


For further information, please contact 

Craig McGuckin

Managing Director  

First Graphene Limited  

+ 611300 660 448

Tags:  FGR  First Graphene  graphene enhanced polymer  Mining  newGen  Polymer 

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