Reinforcing Ceramics with Graphene for Increased Strength and Conductivity

Ceramics are able to be reinforced with Graphene thus making them conductive. This is just one of the many ground-breaking areas of research that Graphenea is working.

The research team found that when graphene is added to alumina, there is an increase in the material's tensile strength, a property usually very low for ceramic materials. The method is also fast, simple and scalable making it suitable for any industrial application. According to the team, the same method can be used for reinforcing other ceramic materials, including silicon carbide, silicon nitride, titania and zirconia. Adding graphene to alumina can increase its conductivity approximately 100 million times.

Graphene Properties

Graphene, a single atomic layer of Carbon, connected in a 2D network was initially made in a lab in Manchester in 2004. Six years later, its discoverers were awarded the Nobel Prize in physics for identifying the material and demonstrating its unique properties. For instance, graphene is highly electrically conductive. It is flexible and stronger than steel. It is transparent making it suitable as a transparent conducting layer for touch panels. Graphene also has excellent thermal conductivity giving it the ability to guide heat in more desirable paths in electronic circuits.

The initial interest from a scientific perspective has now shifted to one of exploring the possible industrial and technological applications for graphene. The EU selected graphene as one of its two flagship research directions, meaning that graphene research will receive one billion euros in funding over the next ten years.

The Novel Graphenea Process

The funding rules insist on including businesses and academic institutions. Graphenea is the largest graphene supplier involved with the EU flagship scheme.

Graphenea have developed a new process of fabricating graphene. Published in the European Chemical Society journal, the process begins with graphene oxide, a commercially-available bottled graphene solution. After mixing with alumina or aluminium oxide, a process known as spark plasma sintering (SPS) is carried out to homogenize the graphene/alumina mixture. A large electrical current is driven by SPS through the mixture with the final product ready in a few minutes.

Graphenea determined that adding as little as 0.22% of graphene to alumina made it 50% more resistant to the propagation of cracks under strain. Other mechanical properties remained on par with untouched alumina, while electrical conductivity increased by a factor of a hundred million.

Ceramics such as alumina are used widely in a number of industries including automotive, aerospace, thermal management, medical and semiconductor processing.

According to the paper’s lead author, Alba Centeno, the key benefit of graphene incorporation at minimal loadings to an Al2O3 matrix is that graphene makes Al2O3 electroconductive and also enhances toughness and mechanical properties. This is surprising as often when a second phase is incorporated in order to improve one specific property, the other properties are adversely affected.

Graphene sheets in Graphenea's align perpendicular to the SRS current direction as shown in Figure 1.

Graphene sheets are aligned along one spatial direction

Figure 1. Graphene sheets are aligned along one spatial direction

The graphene sheets act like a shield preventing any cracks from propogating along that direction. Figure 2 shows a graphene sheet bridging a crack in alumina making the entire material more resistant.

A single graphene sheet bridges a crack in alumina, making the entire material more resistant

Figure 2. A single graphene sheet bridges a crack in alumina, making the entire material more resistant

This innovative approach proves as a ground-breaking method of improving ceramic materials and serves as a springboard for the extensive use of graphene.

Graphenea is a leading graphene company, which manufactures, produces and supplies graphene for industrial and research purposes. The company developed a synthesis and transfer process to obtain highly uniform monolayer graphene films on any substrate, over a large area. Graphenea also markets graphene oxide and reduced graphene oxide in solution.

About Graphenea

Graphenea is a leading graphene producer for industrial and research needs. Graphenea has developed a leading synthesis and transfer process to obtain high uniformity monolayer graphene films on any substrate.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Graphenea.

For more information on this source, please visit Graphenea.

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