The miracle material of the 21st century – Graphene
Graphene is a two dimensional carbon atom layer which is extremely strong, light, flexible as well as thermally and electrically conductive. Graphene coating naturally has similar properties. As a matter of fact, graphene is the strongest, lightest and most conductive substance ever discovered.
Naturally, the material is constantly subject to research to discover possible graphene applications. In the University of Manchester, the researchers have managed to apply graphene in coating. The graphene coating can be very adhesive and durable due to graphene’s high resistance. This means thus, that a graphene coating does not crack and it is resistant to oils and water. Furthermore, graphene’s electrical and thermal conductivity is beneficial for developing new conductive paints and coatings. Additionally, a strong barrier effect can lead to creating extraordinary anti-oxidant, scratch-resistant and anti-UVA coatings.
Graphene coating future applications
Graphene enables a wide array of functional coatings and paints, for many possible applications. It could be suitable for example for creating:
- High performance adhesives (graphene’s adhesive properties)
- Anti-bacterial coatings (extreme resistance of graphene)
- Solar paints which are capable of absorbing and also transmitting solar energy
- Paints which provide insulation for houses
- Anti rust coatings and graphene anti-corrosion coatings
- Anti fog paints
- UV blocking coatings
- Non stick coatings for various applications such as frying pans and counter tops
- Coating that turns a regular wall into a screen (currently being scientifically researched)
- Coatings for plastic packaging (especially relevant for the food industry)
Commercialisation of graphene coating
Graphene coating is not yet ready for commercial use. The substance, coatings and the possibilities of their combinations must be further researched in order to make the best of it. However, the coating should not be too far from commersialisation due to the extensive, ever improving scientific research and graphene’s extraordinary properties. In the future, there will be for example graphene anti-corrosion coating suppliers and manufacturers who will be able to offer the most reliable rust proofing solution; graphene anti-corrosion coating.
Graphene innovation: colour-changing coating to reveal hidden damage
Graphene coating is a product with many possibilities. In Germany scientists at Leibniz Institute of Polymer Research are working on a graphene coating which helps in early detection of damage in structures such as buildings, bridges and vehicles. The coating namely changes colour when deformed.
Tiny, micro-scale cracks and deformation are usually the first signs of structural damage. Early detection of the damage is crucial, yet difficult due to the microscopic size of the damage. However, such cracks may have disastrous consequences. The new graphene application gives a visual warning of the tiniest defect by changing colour there, where damage occurs.
How does it work?
Usually the colour of coatings is created by adding chemical pigments which absorb light at a certain wavelength and reflect the excess light. We see the reflected light as colour. However, this coating receives its colour from periodically arranged tiny surface structures. These cause interference between reflected light waves which are amplified to a particular visible frequency, colour. The coating receives its inspiration from nature; similar phenomenon takes place also on for example butterfly wings, peacock feathers and fish skin.
Normally, the coating is red; however, when deformed, it appears yellow, and when cracked at the micrometre scale, green. This colour-changing ability comes from a careful initial alignment of the graphene flakes in semi-transparent, parallel layers, coating a glass fibre. Under stress, the layers compress and flatten, changing the interference and colour of reflected light.