The thing about graphene is that plenty of people know about its numerous properties but are not entirely sure how to fully utilise it.
For many of us, the material came onto the scene in 2010 when Manchester University scientists Andre Geimand and Konstantin Novoselov were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics for “groundbreaking experiments regarding the two-dimensional material graphene” and since then we’ve been waiting for it to transform our lives in the same way that silicon has done.
There is, of course, plenty to be excited about: graphene is 100 times stronger than steel, it can withstand 20% strain, it is a million more times electrically conductive than copper and it is 98% optically transparent, plus it’s harder than diamond and virtually impermeable. The list goes on with applications predicted in everything from foldaway mobile phones, wallpaper-thin lighting panels to the next generation of aircraft.
There have been notable breakthroughs with Manchester University spin-out Graphene Lighting PLC revealing details of its graphene-based bulb in 2015 and the National Graphene Institute launching to maintain Manchester’s leading position in graphene research and development.
The National Graphene Institute will also be in attendance at Graphene & 2D Materials Europe 2016, which takes place next week in Berlin (April 27-28). As part of the IDTechEx show, the event will be used as a platform for companies to show how they are taking graphene out of the lab and putting it into products including supercapacitors, batteries, anti-corrosion coatings, and energy storage devices.
Included amongst the exhibitors is Vittoria, a company using Directa Plus’ G+ brand of graphene in its range of wheel and tyre related products, which have brought about advantages for manufacturer and end-user alike.
The company says: “Prior to the advanced development of graphene, there was always the requirement of choosing between optimising, or aiming at, speed, grip, durability and puncture protection. Effectively, the introduction of graphene allows for natural material barriers of rubber to be removed, which means that there is no longer the need for such compromises between speed, grip, durability and puncture resistance.”
Furthermore, if the tyre is rolling straight, the rubber is at its strongest and offers low rolling resistance but if the rider brakes, accelerates or corners, the compounds become more supple and offer significantly more grip.
In its carbon wheels, Vittoria claims 10% more heat dissipation, 15% more weight reduction, 26% more material strength, 18% more impact strength, 20% more spoke hole strength, 24% more flexibility, and 50% more lateral stiffness.
In January this year company president and founder Rudie Campagne attended a round table discussing the applications of graphene, highlighting the relatively straightforward transition of integrating graphene into the production process, and noting the favourable dispersion of the material within the finished product.
Still with graphene and news that there is still time to enter Sandvik Coromant’s Graphene Challenge, a competition that asks entrants to find the most innovative graphene solutions for homes. They ask: “What sustainable invention could you create if you had an unlimited access to this amazing material?” and require entrants to think about functionality, application, design and the way in which it would improve a home.
More details on the rules and how to enter can be found here. Note, entries should be submitted by May 26, 2016. Before embarking on a winning design, take a few minutes to view the following video in which experts including Mark Miodownik explain the importance of graphene.