Coat­ings & Cor­ro­sion Control

DEMM Engineering & Manufacturing - - CONTENTS -

Us­ing graphene as

an al­ter­na­tive to toxic ma­te­ri­als in anti- cor­ro­sion coat­ings is just one of the pos­si­ble uses for a break­through by CSIRO-led sci­en­tists in Aus­tralia, which means the world’s strong­est ma­te­rial will be­come more com­mer­cially vi­able.

Graphene is a car­bon ma­te­rial that is one atom thick. Its thin com­po­si­tion and high- con­duc­tiv­ity proves very use­ful in ap­pli­ca­tions rang­ing from minia­turised elec­tron­ics to bio­med­i­cal de­vices. These highly sought-af­ter prop­er­ties also en­able thin­ner wire con­nec­tions; pro­vid­ing ex­ten­sive ben­e­fits for com­put­ers, so­lar pan­els, bat­ter­ies, sen­sors and other de­vices.

Un­til now, the high cost of graphene pro­duc­tion has been the ma­jor road­block in its com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion. Pre­vi­ously, graphene was grown in a highly- con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment with ex­plo­sive com­pressed gases, long hours of op­er­a­tion at high tem­per­a­tures, and ex­ten­sive vac­uum pro­cess­ing.

Now the sci­en­tists have de­vel­oped a novel “GraphAir” tech­nol­ogy which elim­i­nates the need for such a highly- con­trolled en­vi­ron­ment. The tech­nol­ogy grows graphene film in am­bi­ent air with a nat­u­ral pre­cur­sor, mak­ing it s pro­duc­tion faster and sim­pler.

“This am­bi­ent- air process for graphene fab­ri­ca­tion is fast, sim­ple, safe, po­ten­tially scal­able, and in­te­gra­tion- friendly,” said CSIRO sci­en­tist Dr Zhao Jun Han, co- au­thor of a pa­per pub­lished in Na­ture

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions said. “Our unique tech­nol­ogy is ex­pected to greatly re­duce the cost of graphene pro­duc­tion and dras­ti­cally im­prove the up­take of graphene in new ap­pli­ca­tions.”

GraphAir trans­forms soy­bean oil – a re­new­able, nat­u­ral ma­te­rial – into func­tional and highly con­trolled graphene films in a sin­gle step.

“Our GraphAir tech­nol­ogy re­sults in good and trans­formable graphene prop­er­ties, com­pa­ra­ble to graphene made by con­ven­tional meth­ods,” said CSIRO sci­en­tist Dr Dong Han Seo, co-au­thor of the study.

Soy­bean oil, with heat, breaks down into a range of car­bon build­ing units that are es­sen­tial for the syn­the­sis of graphene.

The team also trans­formed other t ypes of re­new­able and even waste oil groups, such as those left over from bar­be­cues or cook­ing, into low- cost graphene films.

“We can now re­cy­cle waste oils that would have oth­er­wise been dis­carded and trans­form them into some­thing use­ful,” Dr Seo added.

The po­ten­tial ap­pli­ca­tions of graphene are vast, such as wa­ter fil­tra­tion and pu­rifi­ca­tion, re­new­able en­ergy, sen­sors, per­son­alised health­care and medicine, to name a few.

Graphene has ex­cel­lent elec­tronic, me­chan­i­cal, ther­mal and op­ti­cal prop­er­ties as well. Its uses there­fore range from im­prov­ing bat­tery per­for­mance in en­ergy de­vices, to cheaper so­lar pan­els and new wa­ter pu­rifi­ca­tion meth­ods.

CSIRO is look­ing to part­ner with in­dus­try to find new uses for graphene in re­plac­ing ex­pen­sive gold or plat­inum in the pho­to­voltaic layer of so­lar cells with graphene, such as anti- cor­ro­sion coat­ings as well as the abil­ity to make so­lar pan­els more cheaply and pro­long­ing bat­tery life in en­ergy de­vices through graphene’s ex­cel­lent chem­i­cal sta­bil­ity.

Re­searchers from The Univer­sity of Syd­ney, Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy Syd­ney and The Queens­land Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy also con­trib­uted to the work.

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