Ti-News n. 19 // March 2018 - page 8

Ti
news
8
The Promise of Graphene
exciting developments inmaterials science
Graphene has become one of the
most widely investigated materials
of today due to its unusual blend of
superior material properties. With
a honeycomb structure of carbon
sheets just one atom thick, it’s the
first two-dimensional material ever
discovered. Yet its benefits are multi-
dimensional, offering remarkable
strength, flexibility, transparency,
and conductivity, while also forming
a perfect barrier against transmission
of gases.
The graphene sheet of carbon atoms
can work like a super-fine atomic net
that prevents unwanted materials
from passing through. For example,
it can keep gases trapped within a
container, like keeping hydrogen safely
in the fuel tanks of fuel cell cars. And
it can keep gases out, to protect food
and electronics against infiltration by
oxygen and moisture.
Ti
scientists and engineers are excited
about the possibilities graphene holds
for films and packaging applications.
However, industrial-scale production
has yet to be perfected. When large
sheets of graphene are produced,
the risk of fissures and other flaws
appearing in the material increases.
Researchers are exploring a variety
of strategies to leverage multiple
layers of less than perfect graphene
crystals with varying success. For
graphene/polymer nanocomposites,
the degree of graphene exfoliation,
the stacking orientation, and the size
and integrity of the graphene platelets
in the polymer matrix determine
gas and aroma barrier. However,
local defects of the nanocomposites
during preparation, the aggregation
of graphene, and poor dispersibility in
solvents still limit the mass production
of graphene/polymer nanocomposites.
Work is underway all over the world
to improve graphene’s degree of
exfoliation, dispersion and orientation
in a polymer matrix, while also
maintaining the other advantages of
both graphene and the polymer for
graphene/polymer nanocomposites.
By controlling those critical factors,
a bio-friendly carbon material can
be developed to meet the most
demanding gas-barrier challenges of
today and tomorrow.
Technical Focus
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