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Researchers Add Graphene to Epoxy Compound

Monday, November 19, 2018

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Scientists at Rice University (Houston) are saying that they have built a “better” epoxy with the help of graphene foam.

The researchers say that when the epoxy is combined with the foam—created in the university lab of chemist James Tour—it is substantially tougher than pure epoxy and more conductive than other epoxy composites.

The Research

“By itself, epoxy is an insulator, and is commonly used in coatings, adhesives, electronics, industrial tooling and structural composites,” the university explains. “Metal or carbon fillers are often added for applications where conductivity is desired, like electromagnetic shielding.

“But there's a trade-off: More filler brings better conductivity at the cost of weight and compressive strength, and the composite becomes harder to process.”

Rice University

Scientists at Rice University (Houston) are saying that they have built a “better” epoxy with the help of graphene foam.

What researchers did, then, was replace the metal or carbon fillers with a 3D foam made of nanoscale sheets of graphene.

Tour collaborated with Rice materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan, Rouzbeh Shahsavari, Jun Lou and Yan Zhao, of Beihang University in Beijing.

“The graphene foam is a single piece of few-layer graphene," Tour said. "Therefore, in reality, the entire foam is one large molecule. When the epoxy infiltrates the foam and then hardens, any bending in the epoxy in one place will stress the monolith at many other locations due to the embedded graphene scaffolding. This ultimately stiffens the entire structure.

"When the epoxy infiltrates the graphene foam and then hardens, the epoxy is captured in micron-sized domains of the graphene foam.”

The lab also mixed multiwalled carbon nanotubes into the graphene foam, which acted as reinforcement bars for the graphene.

Tour says that the material could replace carbon-composite resins and estimates that it can easily scale for industry.

   

Tagged categories: Coatings Technology; Epoxy; Graphene; North America; Research and development; Resins

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