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Graphene Paints are Strong and Corrosion-Free: Researchers

Sep 11, 2014 07:04 AM EDT
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Graphene oxide solutions can be used to paint different kinds of surfaces such as glass, metals and even bricks, a new study has found. These graphene paints are strong as well as corrosion resistant.

Graphene, when stacked together is called graphite - which is found in pencils. In 2004, Andre Geim and Professor Konstantin Novoselov found a way to isolate graphene from graphite and later won a Nobel Prize for their research. Since then, other scientists are trying to find industrial applications for graphene.

The "wonder material" conducts electricity better than copper and is the toughest material known to man. The 2D material is 200 times stronger, but six times lighter than steel. According to the Guardian, companies such as Applied Graphene Materials (AGM), originally spun out of the Durham University, are trying to explore graphene's uses. The researchers believe that the wonder material can be used in several industries - from automobile, aviation and electronics to medical research.

Previous research by Dr Rahul Nair and Nobel laureate Sir Andre Geim had shown that films of graphene oxide are vacuum-tight under dry conditions but, exposure to water can make them like a molecular sieve. The researchers say that stacks of graphene oxide have small capillaries that allow water molecules to enter the structure.

In the current study, The researchers show that it is possible to seal these tiny tubes by chemical reactions. The process makes the material not only impermeable, but also mechanically strong. The team demonstrated that glass or copperware covered with graphene paint hold even the most corrosive acids.

"Graphene paint has a good chance to become a truly revolutionary product for industries that deal with any kind of protection either from air, weather elements or corrosive chemicals. Those include, for example, medical, electronics and nuclear industry or even shipbuilding, to name but the few," said Dr Rahul Nair from the University of Manchester.

"Graphene paint can be applied to practically any material, independently of whether it's plastic, metal or even sand. For example, plastic films coated with graphene could be of interest for medical packaging to improve shelf life because they are less permeable to air and water vapour than conventional coatings. In addition, thin layers of graphene paint are optically transparent," said Dr Yang Su, the first author in this work, according to a news release.

The study is published in the journal Nature Communications.

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