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Engineers See Big Future for Graphene Gilding

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

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Graphene—an atom-thin later of carbon that’s been touted for its strength and conductivity—has found a new use thanks to some engineers at the University of Illinois: The so-called supermaterial could be used to help preserve ancient artifacts, and the research being done around the process could have implications for the protection of larger structures.

Inspired by the gilding that has protected artifacts like the tomb of King Tutankhamun for centuries, Illinois’ Sameh Tawfick and a team of researchers set about adding a layer of graphene to leaves of palladium to test the effects of fortifying metal leaf with the material. The results were positive, as published in Advanced Functional Materials: The graphene layer contributed significantly to the mechanical resistance of the leaf.

© / iLexx

Graphene could be used to help preserve ancient artifacts, and the research being done around the process could have implications for the protection of larger structures.

The team used chemical vapor deposition to create the graphene layer on the palladium leaf; the leaf was processed at 1,100 degrees Celsius in order to fortify it with the carbon. The whole process, the team says, took about 30 seconds, creating high-quality graphene without exposing the leaf to high temperatures long enough to melt it.

The idea is that the graphene-gilding process could be scaled up to protect building structures or even ships. “This new material could open exciting opportunities in utilizing high quality 2D materials to coat large structures,” the team writes in its paper.

And because the graphene layer is nanoscale in nature, a little material goes a long way. “The amount of graphene needed to cover the gilded structures of the Carbide & Carbon Building in Chicago, for example, would be the size of the head of a pin,” Tawfick said.

The University of Illinois research was funded by a grant from the U.S. Office of Naval Research.

Graphene has already been commercialized as a dispersion for coating formulation by U.K.-based Applied Graphene Materials; the company last week released the results of salt-spray testing of a high-build primer it says provides corrosion control that's more effective than a zinc phosphate corrosion-inhibitive pigment.


Tagged categories: Coating Materials; Colleges and Universities; Graphene; NA; Nanotechnology; North America; Research; Research and development

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