What is Graphene?

Graphene, the thinnest material in the universe, is a material with transformative potential that has application in multiple industries. The 2010 Nobel Prize for Physics was awarded to the University of Manchester’s Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov for their ground-breaking work in the field. Graphene can be visualized as a hexagonal lattice of carbon atoms in a honeycomb-like structure. Layers of graphene are stacked on top of each other to form graphite, which has an interplanar spacing of 3.35 Å. Graphene’s crystalline structure gives it unique optical, thermal, mechanical and electrical properties.
Graphene nanoplatelets – microscopic pieces of graphene forming low-density black powder – are amongst the useful real-world applications of graphene. Graphene nanoplatelets are a very promising material and can be employed as a reinforcement agent in polymer composite materials. Adding less than 1% of GNP to a polymer makes the polymer significantly tougher. One of the most effective ways of harnessing the potential of graphene is to combine it with other reinforcement additives such as high-performance fibers and to use this combination to create novel composite materials.


Composite Materials

The modern world is continuously searching for better, cheaper, and safer high-performance materials. Composites are made by combining two or more dissimilar materials such as fibers and resins to create a product with significant weight, cost and performance advantages over conventional structural materials. Most of these composites utilize different types of fibers, for example carbon, glass, polyethylene and aramid. In recent years the carbon fiber industry has grown steadily in response to the trend of replacing metals with lighter composites. This progress is driven by demands from different industries such as aerospace, military, maritime, automobile, medical and construction.


Fiber Reinforced Composites

Several types of man-made fibers form the critical ingredients in the best-performing composite materials. These fibers can be produced from carbon, glass, aramids, UHMWPE and PBO. Subjecting the precursor to successive heat treatments and sizing stages allows for easier handling and improved bonding, resulting in a material that is stronger than steel, lighter than aluminum and as stiff as titanium. Continuous fibers can be combined with virtually all thermoset plastics and thermoplastic resins. One excellent example of a composite material that can be improved with graphene is layered epoxy resins/fiber composites (laminates), which are currently being used at the forefront of many engineering applications, from composite wind turbine blades in the renewable energy sector to the highly complex structural parts of airplanes.

Our Solution

Fiber-based materials have incredible mechanical strength, but they often lack stress and impact resistivity. The incorporation of nanomaterials in the fiber/polymer composite offers a highly effective technique to improve the mechanical properties of composites. The use of graphene as a nanoscale additive opens an attractive route to improving impact endurance and increasing the crack and fatigue resistance of these materials.

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