As posted on The Graphene paradigm shift is coming
IDTechEx has invited a series of industrial players and leaders active in graphene commercialization to contribute their opinions about the state of the technology and markets. As part of article series, we will today hear from
who talks about a graphene paradigm shift. To contact
directly please contact Mr Kim Gunsoon, CTO, on
The materials industry is in the midst of a global Graphene paradigm shift. Since Graphene (a 2 dimensional sheet of carbon atoms) was discovered in 2004 by
Professors Andre Geim and Konstantin Novselov, academic and commercial groups have been researching and developing applications using Graphene’s properties of mechanical strength (200x stronger than a steel), electrical conductivity (100x higher than copper), electrical capacity, thermal conductivity (2x higher than a diamond), transparency (more transparent than glass), impermeability, and flexibility to improve traditional materials and products. Production methods are also being researched and developed as Graphene has the potential to become a multi-trillion dollar industry.
Today, many of the commercial products marketed as containing “Graphene” use small amounts of low quality Graphene as an additive to traditional materials. Examples include bike tires, tennis rackets, and carbon fiber reinforced plastics.
Quality is a hurdle in the commercialization of Graphene. Commercially available “Graphene” is often “GNP” or Graphene Nano Platelets consisting of dozens to hundreds of layers of carbon atoms. This material (GNP) is more graphite like in structure and performance. While perfect one layer sheets of Graphene is still a theoretical goal for mass production;
(a South Korean based manufacture and Research Company) has a product with a 1.7 atom layer average.
One of the methods implemented to qualify the quality of Graphene is called Ramen Spectra. Ramen Spectra uses lasers to analyze the ratio of 3 dimensional carbon bonds to 2 dimensional Graphene bonds. A South Korean University has been working to establish a standard of quality for Graphene using Ramen Spectra.
has the highest ratio of 2 dimensional Graphene bonds to 3 dimensional carbon bonds of all the mass production Graphene tested.
Graphene quantity and price are additional hurdles for commercialization.
spent 6 years optimizing its modular and automated production line which uses a proprietary chemical exfoliation method to produce high quality GO (Graphene Oxide) and rGO (Reduced Graphene Oxide) with 4.4 ton GO and 1.1 ton rGO capacity per year. Commercial prices are currently avalible in the market and quality remains the major differentiating factor among the industry’s top producers.
Dispersing Graphene evenly is one of the more recent hurdles in commercialization. Because of its high surface area, often less than 1 weight % of Graphene is used in a composite and additional manufacturing steps are required to achieve even dispersion. GO and rGO are nano-powders so manufactures have needed additional health and safety equipment and procedures, or pre dispersed solutions to research and develop applications.
Many companies and groups are in the research and prototyping phases for commercial products and applications using Graphene.
is working on 15 applications in different markets. Most applications are currently ready for commercialization, such as, Graphene composite plastics (CFRP, PE, PLA, PC, PU, ABS), Graphene coatings for thermal conductivity, Graphene coatings for scratch resistance, 3D printing filament for mechanical strength, 3D printing filament for electrical conductivity, super capacitors, batteries, Graphene composite rubber, Graphene composite metals, bio-sensor patches, and a few other proprietary applications. Most of the applications produce double digit or even triple digit improvements when compared to existing materials and applications. Electrical resistance in a Graphene filament for example demonstrated an 11x reduction compared with a current product on the market.
As Graphene quality, quantity, price, and dispersion methods advance across the industry, there will be a proliferation of new and innovative commercial applications. This is just the beginning of how Graphene will change the world.